A rise of 0.3 per cent in the March 2020 quarter Consumer Price Index (CPI) reflected the impact of drought and bushfires on some food prices and the early effects of COVID-19, according to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures.
The most significant price rises in the March 2020 quarter were for food and non-alcoholic beverages (+1.9 per cent), alcohol and tobacco (+1.6 per cent), education (+2.6 per cent) and health (+1.7 per cent).
The most significant price falls for the quarter were for automotive fuel (-6.0 per cent), domestic holiday travel and accommodation (-3.1 per cent) and international holiday travel and accommodation (-3.0 per cent).
ABS Chief Economist, Bruce Hockman said: "Drought and bushfire related effects impacted prices for a range of food products. Prices rose in the March 2020 quarter for fruit and vegetables (+6.0 per cent) and meat and seafood (+2.0 per cent).
"There were some price effects of COVID-19 apparent in the March quarter due to higher purchasing of certain products towards the end of the quarter, as restrictions came into effect.
"Most notably, rises were seen in, other non-durable household products (+3.4 per cent), which includes toilet paper; personal care products (+2.2 per cent), which includes soap and hand sanitiser; and other cereal products (+4.4 per cent), which includes rice and pasta.
"More evident effects of COVID-19 are expected in the June quarter CPI."
Annual inflation rose 2.2 per cent in the March 2020 quarter.
Mr Hockman said: "CPI annual inflation was above 2 per cent for the first time since 2018 and the highest since September 2014 quarter."
The ABS has released a Note on the impact of COVID-19 on the CPI.
A feature article on the use of Web-scraping in the Australian CPI has also been released.
The ABS thanks all those who contributed to the data included in this publication.
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