Computer games push up UK inflation rate

MP3 players and music downloads added to national shopping basket

The UK's Office of National Statistics (ONS) has placed Apple's iPod and the some of the company's iTunes Music Store downloads in the standard shopping basket the organisation uses to monitor the cost of living in Britain.

Each year the ONS lists a stack of goods it uses to track prices and thus inflation. This year, the ONS is dropping personal CD players in favour of MP3 players to represent the personal audio market. The ONS also added music downloads to the list, along with flat-panel TVs and digital camcorders.

The ONS generates two figures from its price-watch: the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) and Retail Prices Index (RPI). The CPI provides a measure of inflation - indeed, it's used by the Bank of England to make sure it's sticking to its government-mandated two per cent inflation target. Unlike the CPI, the RPI includes housing costs.

The ONS today said the CPI rose to two per cent in February, pushed up by, among other things, computer games, which were more expensive last month than they were in February 2005. The ONS also recorded "a small upward effect also came from printer paper". ®

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