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Consumer Price Index, Australia

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) measures household inflation and includes statistics about price change for categories of household expenditure

Reference period
March 2021
Released
28/04/2021

Key statistics

  • The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 0.6% this quarter.
  • Over the twelve months to the March 2021 quarter, the CPI rose 1.1%.
  • The most significant price rise was Automotive fuel (+8.7%).
  • The most significant price fall was Furniture (-3.0%).

What's new this quarter

In June 2020, the Commonwealth government announced changes to university student contributions as part of the Job-ready Graduate Package. These changes took effect from 1 January 2021 and are incorporated in the measure of Tertiary education in the March 2021 quarter CPI.

A spotlight article was published on 23 March 2021 highlighting the history of Automotive fuel in the CPI as well as the important events affecting fuel prices and inflation.

Main features

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Weighted average of eight capital cities
  Dec Qtr 2020 to Mar Qtr 2021Mar Qtr 2020 to Mar Qtr 2021
  % change% change
All groups CPI0.61.1
Food and non-alcoholic beverages0.40.7
Alcohol and tobacco0.37.9
Clothing and footwear0.50.0
Housing0.1-1.1
Furnishings, household equipment and services-0.22.7
Health2.03.0
Transport3.20.4
Communication0.5-1.9
Recreation and culture-0.21.5
Education0.4-0.1
Insurance and financial services0.10.6
CPI analytical series
 All groups CPI, seasonally adjusted0.51.0
 Trimmed mean0.31.1
 Weighted median0.41.3

Main contributors to change

CPI groups

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Food and non-alcoholic beverages group (+0.4%)

The main drivers of the rise this quarter were improved agricultural conditions and a return to eating out as lock-down conditions ease. The main contributors to the change were:

  • Beef and veal (+3.7%) which rose as favourable weather saw farmers re-building herds after prolonged drought conditions, reducing meat supply. 
  • Takeaway foods (+0.6%) and Restaurant meals (+0.5%) which rose as the continued easing of lock-down restrictions saw more consumers dining at restaurants, allowing restaurants to pass through input cost increases.
  • Fruit (-1.6%) and Other cereal products (-2.7%) which fell, partially offsetting the rise, due to favourable growing conditions leading to increased supply.

Over the past twelve months, the group rose 0.7% as price rises related to herd re-stocking, meat export demand and strong domestic demand were partially offset by the easing of drought conditions.

In seasonally adjusted terms, the group fell 0.1%. The main contributor was Vegetables (-4.0%).

Alcohol and tobacco group (+0.3%)

  • Alcohol rose 1.0% as prices returned from festive season specials alongside the pass through of the excise tax increase for beer and spirits.
  • Tobacco fell 0.6%, due to a small amount of discounting. The Average Weekly Ordinary Time Earnings (AWOTE) fell in November, therefore there was no increase in the tobacco excise, which typically rises on 1 March and 1 September each year.

Over the past twelve months, the group rose 7.9%. The main contributor was Tobacco (+16.8%).

In seasonally adjusted terms, the group rose 1.1%. The main contributor was Tobacco (+1.6%).

Clothing and footwear group (+0.5%)

  • Accessories rose 7.3% as elevated consumer confidence and demand enabled jewellers to pass through high precious metal prices.

Over the past twelve months, the group recorded a flat movement. Accessories rose 4.8%, offset by a 1.8% fall in Garments.

In seasonally adjusted terms, the group rose 1.6%. The main contributor was Accessories (+6.7%).

Housing group (+0.1%)

Changes to the Housing group were influenced by a range of government assistance schemes both at the State and Commonwealth level. The main contributors to the change were:

  • Maintenance and repair of dwellings which rose 1.1% as prices returned to previous levels following the completion of the Northern Territory Government's Home Improvement Scheme.
  • Electricity fell 0.9%, partially offsetting the rise. An annual review of Victorian electricity prices drove a fall in Melbourne. Perth rose 41.6%, as electricity costs returned to more normal levels following the introduction of the $600 household electricity credit by the Western Australian (WA) Government in the December 2020 quarter.
  • New dwelling purchase by owner occupiers fell 0.1%.

HomeBuilder and state-based housing construction grants in WA and Tasmania have had a significant impact on the CPI series New dwelling purchase by owner occupiers in the March 2021 quarter. The following graph shows the impact before and after the application of the housing construction grants in the CPI.

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  • Without the impact of the government grants, the New dwelling series would have risen 1.9%, reflecting increases in materials and labour prices in response to strong demand. 
  • The large offset from the grants this quarter is due to a substantial increase in the number of payments for HomeBuilder and the WA and Tasmanian grants.
  • It is expected that these grants will continue to impact the measurement of new dwelling purchases over the next few quarters as applications are finalised and grants are paid.

Over the past twelve months the group fell 1.1%, which is the most significant fall since 1998. The fall was driven by Electricity (-11.2%), and Rents (-1.4%), the largest annual fall on record for both series.

In seasonally adjusted terms, the group fell 0.1%. The main contributor was Electricity (-1.9%).

Furnishings, household equipment and services group (-0.2%)

This group includes household furnishings and services provided to households, including childcare. The main contributors to the change were:

  • Furniture which fell 3.0% as prices fell due to post-Christmas discounting.
  • Child care (+2.2%) and Other household services (+1.2%) partially offset the fall, due to increases in child care fees and price rises for gardening and house cleaning services.

Over the past twelve months the group rose 2.7%. The main contributor was Furniture (+5.9%) which saw strong demand and supply shortages impacting prices.

In seasonally adjusted terms the group rose 0.6%. The main contributor was Child care (+2.1%).  

Health group (+2.0%)

  • Medical and hospital services (+1.5%) and Pharmaceutical products (+5.3%) rose as a result of the cyclical reduction in the proportion of consumers who qualify for subsidies under the Medicare safety net and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). The safety net thresholds for both the PBS and Medicare are reset on 1 January each year.

Over the past twelve months the group rose 3.0%. Medical and hospital services (+4.0%) was the main contributor.

In seasonally adjusted terms the group rose 0.8%. Medical and hospital services (+1.1%) was the main contributor.

Transport group (+3.2%)

The Transport group was the main contributor to this quarter’s headline CPI change.  The most significant contributor to the change was:

  • Automotive fuel which rose 8.7% as a result of a further recovery in world oil prices from large price falls in early 2020 due to COVID-19 related global lockdowns. Automotive fuel prices rose in January (+1.7%), February (+2.7%) and March (+7.0%).

Over the past twelve months the group rose 0.4%. Motor vehicles (+5.7%) was the main contributor due to increasing demand coupled with supply disruptions.

In seasonally adjusted terms, the group rose 3.1%. Motor vehicles (+0.5%) was the main contributor.

The following graph shows the pattern of the average daily prices for unleaded petrol for the eight capital cities over the past fifteen months.

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Communication group (+0.5%)

  • Telecommunication equipment and services rose 0.4% with new phones coming into the sample and replacing discounted older models. NBN plan prices also increased this quarter.

Over the past twelve months the group fell 1.9%.

The communication group is not seasonally adjusted.

Recreation and culture group (-0.2%)

The easing of COVID-19 related restrictions and changes in the airline market have been the key drivers to the change this quarter. The main contributors to the change were:

  • Domestic holiday travel and accommodation fell 1.8% due to airfares. The entrance of a new competitor into the capital city market has led to significant discounting between domestic carriers, with prices falling across routes including to major city destinations. Domestic accommodation partially offset the fall, with a number of accommodation operators increasing prices following increased demand for intrastate travel.
  • Other recreational, sporting and cultural services rose 3.7%, partially offsetting the fall. Entertainment venues are now allowed to operate at 100% seated capacity, which saw cinemas and live theatre companies increase prices to pre-COVID-19 or higher levels.
  • International holiday travel and accommodation was imputed again this quarter. For more information see Measuring the Consumer Price Index during a time of COVID-19.

Over the past twelve months the group rose 1.5%. Domestic holiday travel and accommodation (+3.9%) was the main contributor.

In seasonally adjusted terms, the group rose 0.6%. Other recreational, sporting and cultural services (+4.1%) was the main contributor.

Education group (+0.4%)

The main contributors to the change were:

  • Secondary education which rose 1.8% following increases in fees at the commencement of the new school year.
  • Tertiary education fell 1.7%, offsetting the rise.

In June 2020, the Commonwealth government announced changes to university student contributions as part of the Job-ready Graduate Package. These changes took effect from 1 January 2021 and are incorporated in the measure of Tertiary education in the March 2021 quarter CPI.

The impact on students' fees varied, depending on course type and whether the student was commencing or continuing in the course. Continuing students in courses with increases in fees were subject to grandfather arrangements, while decreases in fees were passed on to the continuing student. This resulted in an overall price fall in tertiary education due to the higher proportion of continuing students enrolled in courses in 2021.

Over the past twelve months, the group fell 0.1%. Tertiary education (-1.7%) was the main contributor.

In seasonally adjusted terms, the group fell 1.5%. The main contributor was Tertiary education (-2.6%), with Preschool and primary education (-1.2%) and Secondary education (-0.8%) also seeing atypical falls. This was a result of school fee freezes which are being seen at a large number of schools in response to COVID-19.

Insurance and financial services group (+0.1%)

  • Insurance (+0.4%) was the main contributor to the rise. 

Over the past twelve months the group rose 0.6%.

In seasonally adjusted terms, the group rose 0.1%.

International trade exposure - tradable and non-tradables

The tradables and non-tradables series measure the contribution of goods and services that are highly exposed to international trade influences (tradables), and those that are mostly influenced by domestic factors (non-tradables), to overall household inflation. Examples of tradables include automotive fuel, most food items, and clothing and footwear. Examples of non-tradables include housing, and education.

Tradables (+1.1% quarter, +0.7% annual)

  • Tradable goods component rose 1.1% due to Automotive fuel (+8.7%).
  • Tradable services component rose 0.4%.

Non-tradables (+0.4% quarter, +1.3% annual)

  • Non-tradable goods component rose 0.3% due to Pharmaceutical products (+5.3%).
  • Non-tradable services component rose 0.4% due to Medical and hospital services (+1.5%).

In seasonally adjusted terms, the tradables component of the All groups CPI rose 1.0% and the non-tradables component rose 0.3%. 

Seasonally adjusted analytical series

Seasonal adjustment is the process by which regular, calendar related effects are removed from the original series.

The Trimmed mean and the Weighted median provide seasonally adjusted measures of underlying inflation. These measures reduce the impact of irregular or temporary price changes in the CPI. For more information see Underlying Inflation Measures: Explaining the Trimmed Mean and Weighted Median.

In the March 2021 quarter:

  • All groups CPI seasonally adjusted rose 0.5% for the quarter and 1.0% for the year.
  • Trimmed mean rose 0.3%, following a rise of 0.4% in the December 2020 quarter.
  • Over the past twelve months to the March 2021 quarter, the trimmed mean rose 1.1%, following a rise of 1.2% over the twelve months to the December 2020 quarter.
  • Weighted median rose 0.4% following a rise of 0.5% in the December 2020 quarter.
  • Over the past twelve months, the weighted median rose 1.3%, following a revised rise of 1.3% over the twelve months to the December 2020 quarter.
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Dec Qtr 2020 to Mar Qtr 2021 percentage change
 Original (%)Seasonally Adjusted (%)
All groups CPI0.60.5
Food and non-alcoholic beverages0.4-0.1
Alcohol and tobacco0.31.1
Clothing and footwear0.51.6
Housing0.1-0.1
Furnishings, household equipment and services-0.20.6
Health2.00.8
Transport3.23.1
Communication(a)0.50.5
Recreation and culture-0.20.6
Education0.4-1.5
Insurance and financial services0.10.1
International trade exposure series
 Tradables1.11.0
 Non-tradables0.40.3

a. Not seasonally adjusted

A detailed explanation of the seasonal adjustment of the All Groups CPI and calculation of the trimmed mean and weighted median measures is available in Information Paper: Seasonal Adjustment of Consumer Price Indexes, 2011 (cat. no. 6401.0.55.003). Revisions to the seasonally adjusted estimates can be the result of the application of concurrent seasonal adjustment, described on the methodology page.

Capital cities comparison

All groups CPI

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All groups CPI, All groups index numbers and percentage changes
 Index number(a)Percentage change
 Mar Qtr 2021Dec Qtr 2020 to Mar Qtr 2021Mar Qtr 2020 to Mar Qtr 2021
Sydney118.50.40.9
Melbourne118.80.30.8
Brisbane118.20.61.7
Adelaide117.20.61.2
Perth114.61.41.0
Hobart118.50.81.1
Darwin114.42.62.3
Canberra117.30.91.6
Weighted average of eight capital cities117.90.61.1

a. Index reference period: 2011-12 = 100.0.

At the All groups level, the CPI rose in all eight capital cities, ranging from 0.3% in Melbourne to 1.4% in Perth and 2.6% in Darwin.

In all capital cities:

  • Automotive fuel rose, reflecting a further recovery in world oil consumption following large falls in early 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 related lockdowns.
  • Medical & hospital services and Pharmaceutical products rose due to the Medicare and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) safety net resetting on 1 January, therefore increasing patients' out-of-pocket expenses.
     

Capital city highlights:

Sydney (+0.4%)

  • Automotive fuel (+8.6%)
  • Medical and hospital services (+1.5%)
  • New dwelling purchase by owner occupier (-1.0%)
  • Sydney recorded an annual rise of 0.9%. 

Melbourne (+0.3%)

Melbourne recorded the weakest rise of all capital cities. 

  • Automotive fuel (+7.8%) 
  • Pharmaceutical products (+5.9%) 
  • Electricity (-8.7%) due to the annual review of electricity prices in Victoria.
  • Melbourne recorded an annual rise of 0.8%, the weakest of all capital cities.

Brisbane (+0.6%)

  • Automotive fuel (+7.7%) 
  • Medical and hospital services (+1.9%) 
  • New dwelling purchase by owner occupier (-1.1%) 
  • Brisbane recorded an annual rise of 1.7%.

Adelaide (+0.6%)

  • Automotive fuel (+15.1%), which was the most significant price rise of all capital cities this quarter, coming off a large price fall last quarter.
  • Pharmaceutical products (+4.2%)
  • New dwelling purchase by owner occupier (+0.8%)
  • Domestic holiday travel and accommodation (-3.3%)
  • Adelaide recorded an annual rise of 1.2%.

Perth (+1.4%)

  • Electricity (+41.6%) due to the majority of households having used most of the WA Government's $600 electricity credit last quarter, with electricity costs returning to more normal levels this quarter.
  • Automotive fuel (+9.6%)
  • New dwelling purchase by owner occupier (+2.8%) due to material and labour price rises in response to strong demand which was partially offset by the HomeBuilder and WA construction grants. 
  • Perth recorded an annual rise of 1.0%.

Hobart (+0.8%)

  • ​​​​​​Automotive fuel (+6.6%)
  • Secondary education (+13.1%) and Preschool and primary education (+14.2%) due to fees returning to previous levels, after the Tasmanian Government refunded all compulsory public-school levies paid in 2020.
  • Hobart recorded an annual rise of 1.1%.

Darwin (+2.6%)

Darwin recorded the strongest rise of all capital cities.

  • Maintenance and repair of dwelling (+101.9%) due to prices returning to previous levels following the completion of the Northern Territory Government's Home Improvement Scheme
  • Automotive fuel (+8.1%)
  • Secondary education (+6.2%)
  • Darwin recorded an annual rise of 2.3%, the strongest of all capital cities. 

Canberra (+0.9%)

  • Automotive fuel (+6.6%)
  • Medical and hospital services (+2.4%)
  • Secondary education (+4.8%)
  • Canberra recorded an annual rise of 1.6%. 
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Quarterly percentage change by capital city
GroupSydneyMelbourneBrisbaneAdelaidePerthHobartDarwinCanberraWeighted average of eight capital cities
All groups0.40.30.60.61.40.82.60.90.6
Food & non-alcoholic beverages0.30.30.30.41.10.40.30.40.4
Alcohol & tobacco0.00.90.40.20.2-0.20.30.40.3
Clothing & footwear0.90.20.3-0.20.80.20.00.80.5
Housing-0.6-0.50.00.53.20.010.20.30.1
Furnishings, household equipment and services0.4-0.8-0.2-0.60.00.20.30.1-0.2
Health2.02.32.31.21.71.82.22.52.0
Transport3.12.43.25.24.03.13.53.53.2
Communication0.50.40.40.40.50.50.40.40.5
Recreation & culture0.0-0.10.0-1.0-0.80.3-0.70.4-0.2
Education0.7-0.11.2-0.4-0.27.83.92.40.4
Insurance & financial services0.5-0.5-0.60.90.4-1.10.1-0.90.1

Selected tables - capital cities

All groups CPI, index numbers(a)

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All groups CPI, index numbers(a)
PeriodSydneyMelbourneBrisbaneAdelaidePerthHobartDarwinCanberraWeighted average of eight capital cities
2021 March118.5118.8118.2117.2114.6118.5114.4117.3117.9
2020 December118.0118.4117.5116.5113.0117.6111.5116.3117.2
2020 September116.8116.7116.2115.7114.1116.7110.8115.4116.2
2020 June114.7115.7113.6114.6112.1115.6109.0112.8114.4
2020 March117.4117.8116.2115.8113.5117.2111.8115.5116.6
2019 December117.1116.9116.3115.4113.1116.7111.5115.0116.2
2019 September116.5115.9115.5114.5112.6114.7111.3114.3115.4
2019 June115.9115.3114.8113.7112.0114.1111.0113.5114.8
2019 March115.1114.7114.1113.1111.2113.4110.1113.2114.1
2018 December115.2114.6114.0113.0111.3113.6111.0113.1114.1
2018 September114.7114.0113.4112.4110.8112.2110.8112.3113.5
2018 June114.0113.8112.9112.1110.2111.5110.1111.6113.0
2018 March113.6113.3112.4111.6110.0111.1109.7111.2112.6
2017 December113.3112.3112.3111.2109.9110.3109.7110.3112.1
2017 September112.5111.5111.4110.4109.5109.2109.4109.6111.4
2017 June111.7111.0111.0109.2109.0108.9108.8108.6110.7
2017 March111.3110.9110.5109.1109.0108.9108.5108.6110.5
2019-20116.4116.6115.4115.1112.8116.1110.9114.4115.7
2018-19115.2114.7114.1113.1111.3113.3110.7113.0114.1
2017-18113.4112.7112.3111.3109.9110.5109.7110.7112.3

a.        Unless otherwise specified, reference period of each index: 2011-12 = 100.0.

All groups CPI, percentage changes

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Percentage change (from previous financial year)
PeriodSydneyMelbourneBrisbaneAdelaidePerthHobartDarwinCanberraWeighted average of eight capital cities
2019-201.01.71.21.81.32.40.21.21.3
2018-191.71.71.61.51.32.50.92.11.6
2017-182.02.31.72.30.92.11.02.41.9
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Percentage change (from corresponding quarter of previous year)
PeriodSydneyMelbourneBrisbaneAdelaidePerthHobartDarwinCanberraWeighted average of eight capital cities
2021 March0.90.81.71.21.01.12.31.61.1
2020 December0.81.31.01.0-0.10.80.01.10.9
2020 September0.30.70.61.01.31.7-0.41.00.7
2020 June-1.00.3-1.00.80.11.3-1.8-0.6-0.3
2020 March2.02.71.82.42.13.41.52.02.2
2019 December1.62.02.02.11.62.70.51.71.8
2019 September1.61.71.91.91.62.20.51.81.7
2019 June1.71.31.71.41.62.30.81.71.6
2019 March1.31.21.51.31.12.10.41.81.3
2018 December1.72.01.51.61.33.01.22.51.8
2018 September2.02.21.81.81.22.71.32.51.9
2018 June2.12.51.72.71.12.41.22.82.1
2018 March2.12.21.72.30.92.01.12.41.9
2017 December2.22.21.92.30.82.11.02.21.9
2017 September1.92.21.51.80.82.00.62.11.8
2017 June2.22.21.81.60.72.30.52.11.9
2017 March2.42.51.82.01.02.30.52.32.1
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Percentage change (from previous quarter)
PeriodSydneyMelbourneBrisbaneAdelaidePerthHobartDarwinCanberraWeighted average of eight capital cities
2021 March0.40.30.60.61.40.82.60.90.6
2020 December1.01.51.10.7-1.00.80.60.80.9
2020 September1.80.92.31.01.81.01.72.31.6
2020 June-2.3-1.8-2.2-1.0-1.2-1.4-2.5-2.3-1.9
2020 March0.30.8-0.10.30.40.40.30.40.3
2019 December0.50.90.70.80.41.70.20.60.7
2019 September0.50.50.60.70.50.50.30.70.5
2019 June0.70.50.60.50.70.60.80.30.6
2019 March-0.10.10.10.1-0.1-0.2-0.80.10.0
2018 December0.40.50.50.50.51.20.20.70.5
2018 September0.60.20.40.30.50.60.60.60.4
2018 June0.40.40.40.40.20.40.40.40.4
2018 March0.30.90.10.40.10.70.00.80.4
2017 December0.70.70.80.70.41.00.30.60.6
2017 September0.70.50.41.10.50.30.60.90.6
2017 June0.40.10.50.10.00.00.30.00.2
2017 March0.40.90.30.40.00.8-0.10.60.5

Longer term series: all groups CPI, weighted average of eight capital cities, index numbers

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 31 March no.30 June no.30 September no.31 December no.
2021117.9   
2020116.6114.4116.2117.2
2019114.1114.8115.4116.2
2018112.6113.0113.5114.1
2017110.5110.7111.4112.1
2016108.2108.6109.4110.0
2015106.8107.5108.0108.4
2014105.4105.9106.4106.6
2013102.4102.8104.0104.8
201299.9100.4101.8102.0
201198.399.299.899.8
201095.295.896.596.9
200992.592.993.894.3
200890.391.692.792.4
200786.687.788.389.1
200684.585.986.786.6
200582.182.683.483.8
200480.280.680.981.5
200378.678.679.179.5
200276.176.677.177.6
200173.974.574.775.4
200069.770.272.973.1
199967.868.168.769.1
199867.067.467.567.8
199767.166.966.666.8
199666.266.766.967.0
199563.864.765.566.0
199461.561.962.362.8
199360.660.861.161.2
199259.959.759.860.1
199158.959.059.359.9
199056.257.157.559.0
198951.753.054.255.2
198848.449.350.251.2
198745.346.046.847.6
198641.442.143.244.4
198537.938.839.740.5

a.        nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)

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Using price indexes

Price indexes in contracts

Price indexes published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) provide summary measures of the movements in various categories of prices over time. They are published primarily for use in Government economic analysis. Price indexes are also often used in contracts by businesses and government to adjust payments and/or charges to take account of changes in categories of prices (Indexation Clauses).

Use of Price Indexes in Contracts that sets out a range of issues that should be taken into account by parties considering including an Indexation Clause in a contract using an ABS published price index.

Frequently asked questions

The Frequently Asked Questions page that has answers to a number of common questions to do with price indexes and the Consumer Price Index, in particular.

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 6401.0.