Consumer prices down marginally


CONSUMER PRICES fell marginally in November, declining 0.1 per cent compared to October, the Central Statistics Office said.

During the month, the price of alcohol and tobacco fell 1 per cent, as supermarkets and off-licences reduced their prices, while prices at restaurants and hotels were down 0.4 per cent against October levels. Transport also saw a slight decline, falling 0.3 per cent as the price of second-hand cars fell.

These declines were offset by a rise in the price of clothing and footwear, which rose 1.9 per cent as prices recovered.

The EU Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices, which excludes such items as mortgage interest and car tax, was down 0.2 per cent in the month.

Year on year, prices were 0.6 per cent higher last month. Meanwhile, prices measured by the EU harmonised index were an average of 0.8 per cent lower in November compared to November 2009.

The most significant changes recorded in the consumer price index in the year were increases in housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels, which rose 9.2 per cent. The cost of communications also rose compared to last year, increasing by 2.9 per cent.

Year-on-year, clothing and footwear were 5.5 per cent cheaper, while alcoholic beverages and tobacco cost 3.3 per cent less. Education prices fell 3 per cent.

Bloxham economist Alan McQuaid said underlying price pressures in the economy remain “fairly subdued” and were expected to remain that way.

“The increase in excise duties on petrol/diesel in Tuesday’s Budget will add to the CPI [Consumer Price Index] in 2011, but the overall thrust of the fiscal austerity measures announced by Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan were deflationary rather than inflationary,” he said.

“As such, we expect price pressures to remain fairly subdued over the next 12 months. The main upward pressure on the Irish CPI in the months ahead will come from mortgage interest rates and food/energy costs.”

Acting director of the Small Firms’ Association Avine McNally said price rises were being driven by increases in public utility costs, such as housing, water, electricity and gas. “These figures again show that costs in some sectors are too high and we need urgently to come into line with our competitors,” she said.