Men's suits and individual doughnuts dropped from inflation statistics as COVID changes work habits

Men's suits are no longer part of UK inflation statistics due to the growing difficulty of collecting price data for them
Men's suits are no longer part of UK inflation statistics due to the growing difficulty of collecting price data for them   -   Copyright  Ruthson Zimmerman / Unsplash
By Tom Bateman

When was the last time you wore a suit? If you've spent much of the last two years working from home, it's probably been a while.

Now the UK's Office for National Statistics (ONS) has shared its view and consigned the men's suit to the wardrobe of history, removing it from the basket of goods and services it uses to track the rate of inflation.

By collecting data on the changing cost of a representative selection of consumer goods, the ONS is able to measure movements in the cost of living.

Movements in consumer price inflation are reflected in changes in the overall cost of the so-called 'shopping basket'.

"Press & anecdotal evidence confirms the fall in usage, hastened by the coronavirus pandemic and home working," the ONS said in a note explaining the decision to demote the classic business suit.

Changing retail habits were also to blame for the suit's downfall, the ONS said, as the loss of physical department stores and retailer decisions to stop selling suits altogether made pricing data difficult to collect.

The suit's place in the ONS's shopping basket will be taken by a "man's formal jacket or blazer," item instead.

Suits out, sports bras in

Suits are not the only item to drop out of the basket in 2022.

Individual cakes - listed in the data as "doughnuts" - have been removed as housebound consumers shifted to buying multipacks instead, the British statistics agency said.

Other social changes - some pandemic-related, others more long term - were reflected in items being added to the basket.

Meat-free sausages join the growing list of vegan and vegetarian alternatives in the basket, as consumers are tempted away from animal products by ethical and environmental concerns.

Antibacterial wipes also appear in 2022's basket, to "represent current cleaning trends" and higher demand for antibacterial products in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ONS said.

Sports bras and pet collars also made the list in 2022, in a reflection of consumer interest in fitness and the number of pets adopted during the pandemic.

In all, 19 items have been added to the shopping basket in 2022, the ONS said, while 15 have been removed.

Inflation rates have hit long-term record levels in recent months, as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on global supply chains has helped drive up costs in crucial industries including shipping and fuel.

In the UK, inflation currently sits at a 30-year high of 5.4 per cent, with further rises expected as the war in Ukraine and sanctions on Russia put pressure on Europe's oil and gas supplies.