What does the survey comprise?
The monthly publication of price changes in consumer goods and services. Price developments are presented as index numbers. In all member states of the European Union (EU), these indices are compiled in a similar manner to facilitate comparison between the various EU countries. The harmonised consumer price index (HICP) is also used to measure inflation across the eurozone. Inflation is calculated as the percentage change of the HICP in a particular month compared to the same month in the previous year.
On the basis of these data, Statistics Netherlands (CBS) also calculates the HICP constant taxes (CT). In this series, the effect of changes in product-related tax rates (e.g. VAT and excise duty imposed on alcohol and tobacco products) is eliminated. The HICP CT answers the question: how would prices have changed, if tax rates had remained the same?
Consumer goods and services purchased by Dutch residents and foreigners on Dutch territory.
Consumer goods and services.
Year the survey started
Based on a request submitted by Eurostat, HICP results are only defined as provisional if - at the moment of publication - it is evident that data are incomplete and/or will be subject to revision in the next few months. In most cases, all requested information regarding consumer prices is available at Statistics Netherlands when the first results are published and later adjustments will not be required. Occasionally, specific information is not available on time and the results can be adjusted at a later stage. In such cases, HICP data can be revised, even if they had no provisional status in the preceding month.
How is the survey conducted?
Type of survey
The survey is based on monthly price observations among companies and organisations supplying goods and services to consumers.
Statistics Netherlands uses more and more transaction data (like scanner data of supermarkets and more retail chains) and register data. Also internet robots which automatically collect prices are used. Additionally, Statistics Netherlands uses prices which are collected in shops, written and telephone surveys and internet price collection.
Businesses, institutions, associations and the various government levels.
Every month many data are collected from datasets with transaction prices, register data and by internet robots. Additionally, more than 30 thousand prices of 1,100 goods and services are collected at more than 6 thousand respondents.
Checking and correction methods
Statistics Netherlands checks the completeness and plausibility of incoming data. If data are incomplete or implausible, the respondent is requested to provide additional information. In the case of non-response, the data will be imputed (the necessary information is estimated on the basis of other observations). When products or services in the survey package are changed, a correction is made for any differences in quality between the old and the new version of the product.
To measure price changes, a package of goods and services is compiled. A specific weight, i.e. an indication of how important a product or service is in the consumption pattern of Dutch consumers, is assigned to all products and services in the package. Consumer spending data by National Accounts are used to determine the weights of the various goods and services in the HICP. In addition, budget surveys and other external sources are used. The HICP is a monetary index with particular focus on comparability between countries. Therefore, the package of goods and services used for the HICP varies from the CPI package. The HICP includes private consumption of foreigners in the Netherlands, but price increases affecting Dutch consumers abroad are not taken into account. Other differences concern home ownership, consumer-related taxes, membership fees for sports clubs and health care. The weights of the product groups in the HICP are updated and published annually in January.
Quality of the results
Accuracy and representativeness of the HICP are safeguarded by measuring prices of a very large and diverse range of products. Each month, prices are measured at different sales channels throughout the country. However, it is impossible to calculate the degree of accuracy. The accuracy of price changes for a group of products is generally lower than for the total consumption package. The survey response rate exceeds 95 percent.
Inaccuracies may arise at several stages in the production process:
• sampling respondents
• selection of representative items and estimation of quality differences
• measurement errors
• determination of weighting factors
• as a result of non-response
Price developments are measured by including prices of a large number of products which were surveyed during two consecutive months, preferably at the same retail outlet. Annually, the reference base is adjusted in January. At that moment, a new package of products and services is introduced. The weights in the package are also updated. Therefore, data vary from one year to the next, but they are comparable.
Data are checked for internal consistency and completeness. Wherever necessary, action is taken to verify the data. If the data are correct, the price indices are calculated and the results are verified and validated. Validation and calculation are not done by the same individual.