Consumer prices rose noticeably by 2 percent in March, after a plus of only 1,2 percent in February. Energy products such as fuels and heating oil were mainly responsible for this sharp rise in inflation, as Statistics Austria explained on Friday. In March, for the first time since the start of the corona crisis, these had not shown any year-on-year price decreases. Housing, water and energy remained massive price drivers.
“The crude oil prices on the world market caused the inflation rate to rise to the ECB target of two percent in March 2021, thus stopping the phase of lowest inflation rates for the time being,” reported Statistics Austria Director General Tobias Thomas. The drop in oil prices at the beginning of the previous year had "a strong dampening effect on price developments in 2020, which will now be eliminated as crude oil prices have largely returned to their previous level".
According to statisticians, inflation in March would have been only 0,9 percent without higher spending on housing and transport. The prices for apartment, water and energy increased by an average of 2,9 percent, influenced the inflation rate with a plus of 0,57 percentage points and thus proved to be the “strongest price driver in the year-on-year” according to Statistics Austria.
Rents rose by 5,3 percent. Household energy cost 3,5 percent more on average - electricity went up by 5,6 percent and heating oil by 3,5 percent, after being 8,8 percent cheaper in February. Gas prices rose by 2,3 percent. In contrast, the prices for solid fuels and district heating fell by 0,7 and 0,9 percent, respectively. For the maintenance of apartments, an average of 2,2 percent more had to be paid than a year ago.
The prices for traffic rose in March by an average of 3,6 percent. In February, transport spending had barely increased by 0,4 percent. The main reason for the development in March were the fuel prices, which rose by 6,5 percent (influence on the inflation rate: plus 0,29 percentage points) after falling by 5,2 percent in February. Repairs to private transport went up by 3,9 percent, new vehicles by 2,3 percent and flight tickets by 8,9 percent.
Food and non-alcoholic beverages had to be paid 1,2 percent more. Vegetables were 4,6 percent more expensive, fruit 3,7 percent and meat 1,5 percent more expensive. The price of bread and cereal products rose much more moderately with an increase of 0,8 percent. The prices for milk, cheese and eggs have hardly changed (plus 0,2 percent). Non-alcoholic beverages were a little cheaper (minus 0,4 percent), and coffee was much cheaper (minus 5,5 percent).
Clothing and shoes cheaper
The prices for clothing and shoes fell on average by a total of 1,6 percent - clothing items were 1,4 percent cheaper, shoes by 2,6 percent.
Expenditures for daily and weekly shopping have risen significantly above overall inflation: the micro-shopping cart, which mainly contains food, but also daily newspapers or coffee in the coffee house and reflects daily shopping, rose by 3 percent year-on-year, after a plus of 1,8 .3,7 percent in February. The price level of the mini shopping cart, which represents weekly purchases and contains fuel in addition to food and services, rose by 1 percent (February: plus XNUMX percent).
The index level of the 2020 consumer price index (CPI 2020) was 2021 in March 101,9. Compared to February 2021, the average price level rose by 1,1 percent.
The consumer price index harmonized at European level (HICP 2015) reached an index level of 110,69 in March this year (February 2021: revised 109,40) - the inflation rate harmonized for euro zone comparisons was 2 percent and was therefore the same as that of the Austrian CPI. Differences in weighting between CPI and HICP in individual expenditure groups have led to different rates of change and different influences, which, however, would have balanced each other out overall, according to statisticians. (apa)