St. Maarten Statistics record deflation for first time in thirty years

POSTED: 04/20/16 4:55 PM


St. Maarten News – The Consumer Price Index for Sint Maarten has decreased in February by 0.2 percent compared to December 2015. Average consumer prices decreased 0.1 percent over a twelve month period. This is the first time since February 1986 the country recorded deflation of -0.1 percent. This is evident from the data released by the Department of Statistics (STAT).

The price index recorded in February 2016 is 126.1.

In February, four of the nine expenditure categories became more expensive, whilst four became cheaper and one remained unchanged. Amongst the more expensive were the categories; Food (+1.6%), Beverages and Tobacco (+0.4%), Household Furnishing & Appliances (+0.2%) and Miscellaneous (+0.2%).

Slight decreases were recorded for the expenditure category Clothing and Footwear (-0.4%), Housing (-1.3%), Transport & Communication (-0.4%) and Recreation & Education (-0.1%); the expenditure category Medical Care remained unchanged. Notable is the expenditure category Food, which maintained the most significant increase.

Within the expenditure category Food, five of the nine food groups became more expensive whilst four became cheaper. The following food groups recorded increases; Grain (+0.3%), Meat and Fish (+1.9%), Potatoes, Vegetables & Fruit (+5.4%), Eating-out (+0.3%) and other food resources (+1.4%). The food groups; Fats & Oils (-0.4%), Dairy Products (-2.7%), Pre-cooked dishes (-0.1%) and Sugar & Chocolate (- 0.1%), became slightly cheaper.

The following products largely influenced the total price change within the food groups: Grain was largely influenced by wheat bread (+4.1%), raisin bread (+12.9%) and white rice (-2.0%). Meat & Fish, was largely influenced by beef (+14.4%), oxtail (+8.6%), spareribs (-6.2%), other pork meat (-13.1%), goat meat (+15.4%), pork chops with and without bone (-2.7%), other poultry (+4.6%), salted & dried fish (+5.4%) and canned salmon (+9.4%).

The food group Dairy Products was largely influenced by canned milk (+3.7%), baby powdered milk (-3.0%), cheese (-2.1%) and eggs (-15.3%). The food group Potatoes, Vegetables & Fruit was largely influenced by fresh potatoes (+4.6%), leafy greens (+4.1%), tomatoes (+9.4%), bell peppers (+27.4%), other vegetables (+15.0%), spices (+37.8%), apples and pears (+7.1%), grapes and prunes, etc. (+14.3%) and other fresh fruit (-1.6%).

Within the expenditure category Housing, three of the five product groups became less expensive whilst one remained stable and one became more expensive. The product groups Energy expenses, Maintenance of Dwelling and Garden Maintenance decreased by 10.0%, 0.1% and 0.1%, respectively. A decrease in the consumer price of electricity by 3.9% and the significant drop in consumer price of LPG (-36.5%) largely influenced the total price change within the product group Energy expenses.

Within the expenditure category Transport & Communication three of the four product groups became less expensive whilst one remained stable. The product groups Vehicle Purchase, Vehicle Expenses and Communication recorded a price change, namely a decrease of 0.2%, 1.1 and 0.1% respectively. The price decrease in the products gasoline (-4.1%) and diesel (-8.9%) largely influenced the product group Vehicle Expenses. The drop in consumer prices of new vehicles (-0.2%) largely influenced the product group Vehicle Purchase.

Though the trend over the past 3 year period depicts increasing consumer prices, STAT notes that prices have steadily declined since August 2015. Over the last 3 years consumer prices have increased however at a slower rate; with year to year increases of 2.5 and 2.1 points during the period 2013 – 2015; however a decline is recorded in 2016 over 2015 of -1.5 points.

Inflation has been trending downward. This continued decline has now led to a rate of deflation in February 2016 of -0.1%. This is the first time that deflation was recorded on Sint Maarten since February 1986.

The 12-month average of consumer prices was -0.1 percent lower in February 2016 than a year earlier. This represents a decrease in the inflation rate of 105.55 percent within this period.

Three of the nine expenditure categories account for 69 percent of household expenditure; these are Housing (39%), Transportation and Communication (20%) and Food (10%). Two of the three have recorded deflation. The expenditure category Food however has maintained a steady level of inflation during this period.

The Consumer Price Index on Sint Maarten is heavily influenced by price developments of petroleum products. Noteworthy is the trend of declining consumer prices amongst these products which largely affected the level of inflation/deflation recorded in two of the major expenditure categories; namely Housing (39%) and Transportation and Communication (20%).

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