IT IS only a few years since they were coveted consumer goods, beloved of discerning viewers everywhere. But yesterday DVD video discs were consigned officially to technology’s history books.
The Office for National Statistics, which determines the way the UK calculates the cost of living, said it would no longer include the discs in its consumer price index data.
In their place, the index will measure sales of coffee pods, microwave rice and other retail innovations.
The ONS calculates inflation by monitoring a basket of 704 everyday items, which are updated periodically to reflect changes in UK spending habits.
Yesterday’s list also gave nightclub entry fees the cold shoulder, with officials saying more clubs were now offering free admission.
Statistician Phil Gooding at the ONS, said: “With the number of night clubs charging entry declining, we can no longer justify keeping these fees in the basket.”
The updated list contains 15 new entries, with 14 items dropping out of the basket.
Among the products no longer considered relevant are CD-Roms and re-writable DVDs, reflecting the change in the way computer sales have moved away from physical products.
But the ONS added that computer software for word processing, antivirus or web design, and downloaded computer games had been added to the basket.
Other additions include coffee refills for new beverage machines, whose inclusion reflects the recent explosion in the popularity of home-made premium coffee made with pod machines, which promise a quick and usually fail-safe brew from a wide range of beans.
Cream liqueurs such as Baileys Irish Cream have also found their way on to the list. Their inclusion is said not to reflect a mass market return to the favourite tipple of the 1970s, but to represent “a sub-sector within the spirits category which has a high level of price changes due to discounting”.
Pouches of microwave rice and multipacks of meat-based snacks to represent the market for “buffet-type food” have also found their way into the 2016 basket of goods.
And women’s leggings have been added to the list, because they are “a type of casual clothing not currently covered but widely purchased”.
Despite, or perhaps because of, the trend towards healthier foods, the list no longer includes organic carrots or dessert apples, both of which are deemed to have become “more mainstream” and will now be included with standard produce.
At the other end of the market, meat-based snacks sold in multi-packs are now included, “to reflect the market for meat based, buffet-type food not already covered in the basket”.
The ONS said items qualified for inclusion in the basket if they were easy to find, available throughout the year and commanded a total annual spend of £400 million.
If consumer spending on an item fell below £100 million the ONS said “there should be good reason for their continuing inclusion”.
The organisation collects around 110,000 individual prices each month from 20,000 shops across the UK, as well as a further 70,000 prices online.
Items newly included this year are:
• Coffee pods: their inclusion reflects the recent explosion in the popularity of home-made premium coffee made with pod machines, which promise a quick and usually fail-safe brew from a wide range of beans to suit individual tastes.
• Cream liqueur: this does not reflect a mass market return to the 70s tipple, but instead represents a sub-sector within the spirits category which has a high level of price changes due to discounting.
• Nail varnish: Another new entry that is attracting significant spending, probably because designers release new colours far more often now, usually to accompany their seasonal collections.
• Women’s leggings: This is a type of clothing not previously included despite being widely purchased. But more broadly, women’s clothing is an under-reflected area of the basket, the ONS says.
• Computer software: software, for word processing, antivirus or web design, replaces CD Roms in the basket, some would say not before time.
• Computer game downloads: See above. The ONS notes that downloads have been attracting increasing spending and had been an under-covered area of the basket.
• Microwave rice: microwave-ready rice in the form of pouches or trays reflects longer-term trends towards prepared foods.
• Meat-based snacks: The ONS picked these, in multi-pack form, to reflect the market for meat based, buffet-type food not already covered in the basket.
Here are the significant items removed from the basket:
• Nightclub entry fees: the number of clubs in the UK has fallen in recent years, while many of those that remain no longer charge entry fees.
CPI statistician Phil Gooding, at the ONS, said: “With the number of night clubs charging entry declining, we can no longer justify keeping these fees in the basket.”
• Organic carrots and organic dessert apples: both items have been removed, partly due to organic produce becoming more mainstream.
• In future, organic apples will be included with dessert apples, and organic carrots will be included with standard carrots.
• Rewritable DVDs: The ONS said rewritable DVDs represented a declining technology which is being superseded by streaming services and personal video recorders.
• CD Roms: CD Roms are another “declining technology” as people increasingly download software.