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Smart Speakers Now a Measure of Inflation

Smart speakers, such as the Amazon Echo, have become so popular in the UK that they’re now being used as an official measurement of how much items cost.

Alexa, Google Home and Apple HomeKit are now such an everyday part of our lives that they’ve been included in the Office for National Statistics’ (ONS’) shopping basket for measuring inflation for the first time - a major indicator that smart home tech is now ingrained in our lives.

Smart Speakers: A Modern Measure of Value

Voice-activated speakers have been added to the basket while items that we once spent much more on, like envelopes (no longer as popular as an increasing number of businesses go paperless) and crockery sets - apparently, we’re much more likely to buy single dinner plates now, with these added to the ONS’ shopping basket this year too.

Bakeware has also been added for the first time, most likely due to the continuing popularity of The Great British Bake Off, with dog treats, popcorn and children’s fiction books joining them in the basket.

Meanwhile, dry dog food, crockery sets and Hi-Fis have been removed from the basket, as people are no longer buying them as often.

Smart Home Tech ‘An Everyday Item’

The ONS shopping basket is refreshed every 12 months to reflect what people in the UK are spending their money on, giving an indication of what’s important to them at the time. This therefore shows that smart speakers are very important to UK consumers at the moment - no surprise given that a survey from Policy Adviser published this winter found that three in four UK households now have at least one smart home device.  

Philip Gooding, senior statistician at the ONS, commented: “We want to reflect modern spending habits, and the alterations we have made highlight shifting consumer behaviour, whether that is in technology, the home or the way we communicate with one another. It is important to remember that we change a small percentage of the overall basket.”

Smart speakers replacing Hi-Fi systems is no surprise, as more of us are likely to ask Alexa to play a particular song than put on a CD in 2019. We’re now using smart home assistants for so many other tasks too, from turning on our smart lights to adjusting our thermostats, giving us more control over our lives, and even allowing us to save money on household bills.

As the popularity of smart technology continues to grow, it will be interesting to see how this impacts future ONS inflation baskets. In ten years’ time, will the likes of bakeware and dinner plates have been replaced by smart light bulbs and connected coffee machines? Watch this space.

Sources:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-47496930

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/mar/11/smart-speakers-baking-uk-inflation-basket