Annual consumer price inflation has gone up for the first time in five months as food and drink price drops were not enough to counteract the rise in the costs of fuel and municipal tariffs.
After four consecutive months of decline, annual consumer inflation pushed up in August, rising slightly to 4.8 percent from 4.7 percent.
The good news, however, is that annual inflation for food and non-alcoholic beverages (NAB) declined for the fifth straight month, dropping from 9.9 percent in July to 8.0 percent in August; except for fruit, all food and NAB categories recorded lower annual rates in August, according to Stats SA’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) released on Wednesday.
Alcohol and meat prices also dropped, which means South Africans have even more reason to celebrate the Springboks this Rugby World Cup, particularly during this weekend’s match against Ireland.
The CPI lists the following annual price inflation changes in August compared to July:
Bread and cereals
– 9.9 percent (down from 13.1 percent)
Several products were cheaper in August compared with July, including white bread, brown bread, maize meal, and cereals. Rice put a damper on the party, however, with prices jumping by 3.4 percent month-on-month.
– 3.6 percent (down from 5.1 percent)
Prices for most beef and chicken products declined between July and August, with the exception of chicken giblets and beef extract. The price index for meat was 0.7 percent lower in August compared with July, Stats SA reports.
Milk, eggs, and cheese
– 11.9 percent (down from 14.4 percent)
A number of products registered lower prices, including fresh full-cream milk, eggs, and cheddar cheese. Favourite treats such as condensed milk and custard were more expensive.
Sugar, sweet, and desserts
– 18.5 percent (down from 18.7 percent)
This category registered the highest annual inflation rate among all food and NAB categories. Jam and chocolate slabs were cheaper in August compared with July, while prices for brown sugar, white sugar, and ice cream continued to rise.
– 6.9 percent (down from 7.8 percent)
Beer prices subsided by 0.8 percent while, for wine drinkers, prices declined by 0.3 percent.
But this is where the good news ends
Municipal rates for electricity, water, and property
– Big increases from 2022 to 2023
Stats SA’s municipal rate survey concluded in August and reveals that electricity tariffs increased by 15.3 percent in 2023, much higher than the 7.9 percent rise recorded in 2022. Households paid 9.6 percent more for water in 2023 after bearing the brunt of an 8.1 percent rise the year before.
Property rates were up by 8.4 percent following a 4.3 percent increase in 2022.
In 2023, Western Cape residents experienced the biggest increases in both electricity tariffs (up 17 percent) and property rates (up 11 percent). Residents in KwaZulu-Natal recorded the largest rise in water charges (up 14.2 percent), followed by Gauteng (up 10 percent).
– -11.7 percent in August (up from -16.8 percent in July)
Restaurants and hotels
– 6.7 percent in August (up from 6.5 percent July)
Prices for red meat-based products were up by 2.9 percent between July and August, resulting in an annual change of 9.8 percent. Hamburger prices increased by 1.2 percent between July and August, taking the annual rate to 6.6 percent.
Prices for hotel rooms increased by 5.9 percent in the 12 months to August. This is higher than the annual rate of 2.3 percent recorded in July, Stats SA states.