Prices decreased between October and December

POSTED: 01/19/12 1:21 PM

St. Maarten – The consumer price index decreased by 0.3 percent in December 2011 when the figures at the end of that month and the ones issued at the end of October 2011 are compared. The price index recorded in December 2011 is 117.5. Prices generally showed a dip when comparing these two months but the average consumer prices over a twelve month period (Dec. 2010 to Dec. 2011) shows an increase of 4.6 percent.

Expenditure Categories

Six of the nine expenditure categories become more expensive in December 2011 and three became cheaper. Food (+1.2%), Beverage and Tobacco (+0.6%), Clothing and Footwear (+0.7%), Transport and Communication (+0.3%), Recreation and Education (+0.6%) and Miscellaneous (+0.4%) were amongst the more expensive categories, while Housing (-1.6%), Household furnishing & appliances (-0.1%) and Medical Care (-0.5%) became cheaper. The price increases per category, except food, were all below 1 percent.

A Closer Look

The categories with the largest influence in the basket are Food (10%), Housing (39%) and Transport & Communication (20%). In December 2011 the expenditure category Housing impacted the overall index the most with a significant decline in consumer prices of this category (-1.6%). Even though the expenditure category Food has the third largest weight factor; it recorded the second largest price increase (+1.2%) when December is compared with October 2011.

Food

Eight of the nine food groups became more expensive, while two food groups became cheaper. Grain (+2.4%), Meat & Fish (+0.4%), Fats & Oils (+3.7 %), Dairy Products (+5.0%), Sugar & Chocolate (+1.5%), Pre-cooked dishes (+0.1%), Eating-out (+0.4%) and other food resources (+1.2%) were amongst the more expensive were the food groups but Potatoes, Vegetables & Fruit became 0.3 percent cheaper.

The price of Pasta (+7.6%), Cereal (+2.5%) and Flour (+8.2%) were largely influenced by the price for grain. The food group Meat & Fish was largely influenced by; Beef (+14.7%), Spare ribs (+4.3%), Pork Meat (+25.3%), Goat Meat (+14.2%), Chicken & Chicken Organs (-2.1%), Fish (+-25%) and other Fish (-10.8%). The food group Fats & Oils was largely influenced by; Cooking oil (+4.8%). The food group Dairy Products was largely influenced by; Canned Milk (+3.3%), Powder Milk (+10.3%), Ice cream (+14.3%) and Eggs (+4.7%). The food group Potatoes, Vegetables & Fruit was largely influenced by; Potatoes (-4.2%), Onions & Garlic (-13.4%), Tomatoes (-8.5%), Paprika (-8.8%), Fresh Spices and Herbs (+19.6%), Apples and pears (+3.9%) and Grapes (+5.1%).

Housing

Three of the five product groups in the Housing expenditure category became more expensive whilst one remain unchanged and one became cheaper. Dwelling costs (+0.4%), House maintenance (+0.1%), Garden maintenance (+7.7%) became more expensive but Energy expenses (-9.0%) had an overall more significant effect on this expenditure category. More specifically it must be noted that Electricity (-10.8%) largely influenced the total price percentage change recorded in the product group Energy Usage. This decline is directly related to a Christmas special rate implemented by GEBE. The overall impact of this product on the consumer budget and total index is approximately 0.05 percent.

Transport & Communication

One of the four product groups within the expenditure category Transport & Communication became more expensive whilst two remain stable and one became cheaper. The product group Vehicle Expenses became 1.0 percent more expensive whilst the product group Communication became 0.1 percent cheaper. The product group Vehicle Expenses largely influenced the total price change within this category; Gasoline (+2.6%).

2011 Broader Perspective

Consumer prices on St. Maarten have shown an increasing trend over the last two years. There was a 5.7 percent increase in consumer prices recorded in December 2011 (111.8) compared to those recorded in December 2010 (117.5).

The monthly consumer price index changes were more volatile in 2011 than in 2010. In 2011 the average fluctuation ranged between -0.3 percent and +2.0 percent, whereas in 2010 the average fluctuation ranged between -0.1 and +0.5 percent.

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