CPI dips slightly in March

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Consumer inflation has marginally dipped from 5.6% in February to 5.3% in March, Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) said on Wednesday.

 The Consumer Price Index was 0.8% in March down from 1% in February.

“The categories with the highest annual price changes in March were miscellaneous goods and services up 8.5%, education up 6.3%, health up 6.0% and housing and utilities up 5.9%.

“Education fees are surveyed once a year in March. Overall, education was 6.3% more expensive in 2024 than it was in 2023. This exceeds the 5.7% annual increase in 2023 and is the highest since 2020 when the rate was 6.4%,” Stats SA said.

Stats SA said food inflation in South Africa is now at “at a three-and-a-half-year low”.

“Inflation for food and non-alcoholic beverages slowed to 5.1% in March from 6.1% in February. This is down from its recent peak of 14.0% in March 2023, and is the lowest annual increase since September 2020 when the rate was 3.8%.

“Bread and cereals registered a softer annual print of 5.0% from February’s 6.1%. The rate is substantially lower than the recent high of 21.8% in January 2023. Bread flour, pasta, rusks, maize meal, ready-mix flour and white bread are cheaper than a year ago.

“Meat inflation also cooled in March on the back of lower beef and mutton prices. The annual rate for meat in March was 0.8%, significantly lower than the recent peak of 11.4% in February 2023.

“Annual inflation for sugar, sweets and desserts has remained above the 15.0% level since June 2023. The rate in March 2024 was 17.8%. Products with the most significant annual price increases include brown sugar up 22.0%, white sugar up 20.1%, chocolate slabs up 17.9% and chocolate bars up 15.9%,” the institution said.

According to Stats SA, the increase in excise taxes has fuelled inflation growth for alcohol and tobacco while housing and transport also rose.

“The index increased by a monthly 1.9% in March. This is the highest monthly rise since March last year when excise tax increases led to a 2.2% monthly rise. Prices increased by 4.5% overall in the 12 months to March.

“Housing rents were surveyed in March, rising by 0.8%. The transport index rose by 2.0% between February and March, mainly due to a monthly rise of 5.3% in fuel prices. On average, petrol increased by 5.2% and diesel by 5.3%,” Stats SA said. – SAnews.gov.za