Now considered obsolete or downright unappealing by the average shopper, the vintage grocery items were included in Statistics New Zealand’s first-ever consumers price index (CPI) in 1914. By measuring price changes within this virtual shopping basket, Statistics NZ can see the value of a dollar while also gaining a snapshot of what Kiwi shoppers are buying – or avoiding.
Men’s trackpants may be the new tripe if last year’s CPI review is anything to go by. Trackies are among 11 formerly-common purchases Statistics NZ has decided to stop measuring. The other 10 are: particle board, burglar and car alarms, video cameras, car stereos, recordable DVD discs, tennis racquets, squash club memberships, indoor plants, video game hire and e-book readers.
Most of these products have been thrown out of the basket because of declining or low consumer expenditure caused by changing tastes and evolving technology. New cars now come fitted with both alarms and stereos, removing the need for shoppers to buy the systems separately, while modern mobile phones appear to be responsible for the demise of both video cameras and e-book readers as New Zealanders prefer to record video and read books on their phones or tablets.
Booksellers NZ chief executive Lincoln Gould says his members welcome the change. “There is talk that more and more people are powering-down their e-readers and storing them in their top cupboards along with their disused fondue sets.” He says traditional books continue to sell well, and booksellers enjoyed a bumper Christmas.
Minimal changes were made to the CPI’s food section during its last review, with packaged leaf salad, frozen prawns, breakfast food drinks and cider added and nothing edible removed. According to supermarket giants Foodstuffs NZ and Progressive Enterprises, New Zealanders remain as keen as ever for traditionally popular products such as cow’s milk, bread and butter, but their enthusiasm for healthy alternatives such as coconut water is increasing as well.
Foodstuffs NZ’s PR director Antoinette Laird says overall bread consumption is flat but white bread has dropped by 11.5 percent over the last year: “This suggests consumers are moving away from white bread to healthier alternatives.”
While gluten free bread sales are still very small, Laird says the segment is growing strongly and its value has increased by 20.5 percent over the last year.
In the United States, the New York Times cited statistics from Euromonitor International indicating consumers are moving away from sugary breakfast cereals due to health concerns and changing demographics. It said the market had dropped by nearly $4 billion since 2000.
In the same year, Marketwatch reported on analysis led by Rabobank indicating that during the last five years, the nearly $4 billion US market for chewing gum had fallen by 20 percent in volume and 11 percent in sales. The market is led by candy giant Mars.
Rabobank’s data suggested that gum had fallen out of fashion with younger consumers and been eclipsed by breath mints.