UK consumers refine their palate in favour of specialty gin and flavoured ciders, ONS basket of goods shows

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Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG, comments on changes announced to the basket of goods and services used by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to calculate consumer price inflation

“The ONS basket of goods offers a fascinating peek from behind the curtain at today’s typical household shopping list. As in previous years, factors including changes in consumer tastes, technological advancements and the latest fads and trends all carve out a new modern day consumer. In parallel, this basket seeks to reflect these changes in order to improve the accuracy of the CPI measure.

“There has certainly been a shake up as far as the wines and spirits category goes, with gin notably in and spirit-based drink items like alcopops, out. Flavoured ciders also appear to have made the cut this year. These additions certainly reflect the UK’s growing fascination with gin, as well as the growing shift towards variations on traditional tipples. The rise in the number of small distilleries and microbreweries is clearly refining the UK’s palate.

“This year also sees the inclusion of non-dairy milk and flavoured water, both of which reinforce the growing trend of UK consumers looking to be more health conscious. No doubt celebrity chefs and health gurus will have helped prompt the growing popularity of these alternative milks, whilst those seeking to move away from fizzy drinks are likely to have given rise to flavoured water as the healthier alternative. The growth in the Free From industry more generally will also have boosted the supply of such alternative products – no doubt welcomed by those with specific food allergies.

“Adding to the picture of health, cycling helmets and base-layer tops were also added to existing categories of the basket this year. Helmets nod towards the growing popularity of cycling, whilst the base layer tops captures the rise in active sportswear, further distorting the traditional line between fashion and active-wear.

“Children are also reshuffling this year’s basket, with the ONS picking up on the continued craze of children’s scooters in place of the more traditional children’s swing. This change aims to reflect the product’s all-year-round availability in shops. And it’s not just children reshuffling the games, toys and hobbies category. Jigsaws were included in order to represent an adult-type hobby.

“The updated ONS basket of goods clearly mirrors the consumer shift towards health, fitness and Free From, as well as the resurgence of traditional tastes and activities, albeit often with a modern twist. It is increasingly important for retailers to understand shifts in consumer preferences, as this is often the defining factor between success and failure.”