The impact of the corona crisis on compiling the CPI

4. Publication of the CPI and the HICP

Every month, CBS publishes the price changes of hundreds of separate commodity groups and their aggregates (compilations) for the CPI and the HICP. As a result of the corona crisis, we currently have to establish a notional price development for dozens of commodity groups. For this purpose, we make imputations that are not based on actual price observations. We do not believe that it is right to simply publish these imputed price developments without providing transparency as to the assumptions that underlie them. Due to the different systems that apply, we approach this differently for the CPI and the HICP.

4.1. Publication for the CPI

We publish the CPI in Statline, the CBS online database. If a figure is unknown, insufficiently reliable or confidential, we do not publish it but instead replace it with a dot. We use this same approach for goods and services that are largely (over 50 percent) based on imputations as a result of the corona crisis.
To give users an insight into the assumptions we have made and to identify the values we have imputed in order to compile the CPI as a whole, we will be publishing a separate monthly customised table from April 2020 . This table shows the method we employ for each missing service and the value we impute for the index. This gives our users an understanding of the choices we are making and the impact they have on the results.
Lastly, we measure the CPI for the average Dutch consumer, based on an average spending pattern. This spending pattern can be different for everyone. That’s why we have developed the personal inflation calculator. This online service enables everyone to calculate their own personal rate of consumer price inflation, based on their average monthly expenditure. The calculator also enables people to see how inflation is affected when certain services (e.g. air travel, package holidays, going out for a meal or a drink) are no longer available.

4.2. Publication for the HICP

Eurostat publishes the HICP  of each individual country and for groups of countries. In its database, Eurostat uses flags to indicate the characteristics of a particular figure. The letter ‘u’ stands for ‘low reliability’ and flags goods and services that are largely (over 50 percent) based on imputations as a result of the corona crisis. All figures are therefore published in the HICP, but are marked where necessary.