The impact of the corona crisis on compiling the CPI

1. Introduction

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) measures the price development of all consumer spending by Dutch consumers on a monthly basis and is a key measure of consumer price inflation. The CPI indicates how the prices develop for an ‘average shopping basket’ of goods and services consumed by Dutch households.

The corona crisis is having an inevitable impact on the way in which the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is compiled. Due to the fact that our daily lives have changed, we are also spending our money differently: the contents of our average shopping basket have changed dramatically. The hospitality industry has been almost completely shut down, we are unable to go to the hairdresser’s and our holidays have been cancelled. Instead, we are buying more products online, in supermarkets and in DIY stores. At the same time, it can be difficult to obtain an overview of all the prices we need in order to compile the CPI each month.

If we want to measure prices and price development for the CPI, how can we assess the price of a package holiday to Thailand if no one can actually book or make that trip? Yet this is a time when, perhaps more than ever, our users need the CPI information we compile. For services that are no longer being purchased, we have to make choices that reflect how people use the CPI. In this article, we will explain how we are approaching this task during the corona crisis. In Chapter 2 we will delve into the background of the CPI and set out the important aspects of how it is used. In Chapter 3, we will go on to describe the problems that arise in compiling the CPI during the corona crisis and the ways in which we have decided to solve them. Finally, Chapter 4 explains how we are approaching the publication of data in the CPI.