The UK government’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) determines the annual rate of inflation by creating an standard shopping basket (which has the totally-snappy title of the “Consumer price inflation basket of goods and services“), and seeing how it changes year-on-year.
The products include common household goods, essential foodstuffs, as well as consumer electronics. The idea is to reflect what the average British consumer spends their hard-earned shillings on. Today, this basket bulges with such 21st century essentials like streaming subscription services, game downloads, and set-top boxes.
But as time goes on, certain things are removed. Today, the ONS announced that standard “dumb phones” were to be removed, due to the decline in their popularity. In its own words:
A number of items therefore have been removed from the baskets in 2017 to make space for the new additions. In some cases, this reflects low or decreasing expenditure, such as that on basic mobile phone handsets as people increasingly move towards smartphones and the number of models available in shops falls.
This makes a lot of sense. Most British consumers just aren’t buying dumb phones. Just visit any high street phone retailer – like the Carphone Warehouse – and you’ll see this reflected in what’s on offer.
While they’ve kept their appeal for a long time by being an affordable alternative to smartphones, this simply isn’t true any more, and you can easily get a basic Android handset for less than £50. Incidentally, that’s almost as much as the new Nokia 3310 costs.
Dumb phones are now a novelty at best, and you can’t really measure something as important as inflation with a novelty.