The year-on-year growth of consumer prices in the Czech Republic hit 3.0 percent in March. It was the highest year-on-year price growth since October 2012, according to the Czech Statistical Office (ČSÚ).
March’s growth was 0.3 percentage points up on February’s year-on-year growth. In terms of the year-on-year comparison, the rise in March prices came primarily from developments in food and non-alcoholic beverages. Prices of potatoes increased by 74.5 percent (67.2 percent in February), bread and cereals by 3.3 percent (1.9 percent in February), butter by 8.6 percent (4.0 percent in February).
In 2017 a sharp rise in butter prices was the driving force in food price increases, leading to shoplifting, stockpiling and what some media outlets called “hysteria.” So far, the increases in potato prices have not caused a similar panic. A year-on-year price decline slowed down in a number of foods. Prices of eggs were lower by 8.1 percent in March compared to the previous year (but were down 14.7 percent year on year in February), fruit by 9.5 percent (11.8 percent in February), sugar by 28.3 percent (32.2 percent in February).
An acceleration in the year-on-year price growth occurred in housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels and in transport. In housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels, prices of electricity went up by 11.9 percent (8.9 percent in February), prices of solid fuels by 1.5 percent (0.6 percent in February), heat energy by 4.5 percent (4.2 percent in February). In transport, prices of fuels and lubricants for personal transport equipment accelerated their rise to 2.1 percent (0.1 percent in February). The biggest influence on the growth of the year-on-year price level came from prices in housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels, where prices of actual rentals for housing rose by 3.6 percent, water supply and sewage collection both by 2.6 percent, natural gas and town gas by 3.6 percent. Next in order of influence were prices in food and non-alcoholic beverages with a rise by 1.9 percent. In alcoholic beverages and tobacco, prices of spirits were higher by 5.4 percent, wine by 3.3 percent, beer by 4.2 percent and tobacco products by 3.1 percent.
Miscellaneous goods and services also had an impact. Prices of personal care rose by 4.1 percent, prices of both insurance and financial services by 4.8 percent. In restaurants and hotels, prices of catering services were higher by 4.0 percent and prices of accommodation services by 2.9 percent. A reduction in the price level in March came, as before, from prices in clothing and footwear due to prices of garments, which were lower by 3.2 percent. In communication, prices dropped by 1.2 percent.
Prices of goods in total went up 2.6 percent and services up 3.7 percent.
The increases don’t look as steep in the month-on-month comparison. Prices in March increased by 0.2 percent compared with February. This development came primarily from a price rise in the category of housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels. Electricity was the main driver, higher by 2.7 percent. In alcoholic beverages and tobacco, wine was the culprit, with prices of wine up by 3.7 percent, beer by 1.2 percent, and spirits by 0.8 percent.
In transport, the price development came from prices of fuels and lubricants for personal transport equipment. These prices rose by 1.1 percent in March after four months of decline. In furnishings, household equipment and routine household maintenance, prices of household appliances went up by 1.3 percent in particular. In food and non-alcoholic beverages, potatoes again were exerting pressure. Potatoes rose by 5.6 percent compared to February, prices of bread and cereals were higher by 1.1 percent, and fruit by 1.4 percent.
A decrease in the overall consumer price level in March came from lower prices in recreation and culture, where prices of package holidays went down by 8.8 percent due to the end of winter season. In food, prices of vegetables were particularly lower by 2.2 percent, meat by 0.4 percent, and semi-skimmed milk by 3.4 percent. Prices of goods in total rose by 0.6 percent while prices of services went down by 0.3 percent.
Inflation rate, that is he increase in the average consumer price index in the 12 months to March 2019 compared with the average CPI in the previous 12 months, amounted to 2.4 percent in March. According to preliminary data from Eurostat, the year-on-year change in the average harmonized index of consumer prices (HICP) in the EU28 member states amounted to 1.6 percent in February, up 0.1 percentage points compared to January. The rise in prices was the highest in Romania (4.0 percent) and the lowest price increase was in Ireland (0.7 percent).
In Slovakia, the price rise accelerated to 2.3 percent in February from 2.2 percent in January. In Germany, prices were higher by 1.7 percent in January and February. According to preliminary calculations, the month-on-month change in the HICP in the Czech Republic in March amounted to 0.2 percent and the year-on-year growth was 2.6 percent.