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Increased spend on physical activity, sports bras and plant-based food show changing consumer wellness habits

By Frances Marcellin    23 Mar 2022
Climbing, crop tops and sports bras have been added to the UK's inflationary basket, reflecting social trends / Shutterstock/oleksboiko
The Office for National Statistics reflects pandemic-shaped shopping habits in new basket of goods
A "climbing session" has been added to address "under-represented" sporting services
Sports bras are in, due to a rise in expenditure on sports clothing
Doughnuts have been dropped in favour of plant-based food

Consumers’ growing interest in exercise, health and wellness have been highlighted by changes to the UK government’s inflationary measures, with sportswear and healthy food in the ascendance and participation in exercise and activity making its first-ever appearance.

Inflation is calculated based on a ‘basket of goods’ which is selected to reflect the general purchasing preferences of the general population.

In publishing the new basket for 2022, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has acknowledged for the first time that “recreational and sporting services are under-represented” and as a result, has added a climbing session.

The ONS says the choice of climbing to represent the activity sector reflects its “increased popularity”.

Sports bras and cropped tops have also been included for the first time, showing how much fitness has been embraced by households during the pandemic. “Heightened awareness of fitness generally together with the focus of the coronavirus pandemic has seen a rise in expenditure on sports clothing,” said the ONS.

The choice of female-only workout gear over male activewear can also also be seen as a nod to how much traction women’s fitness has gained over the last few years.

Food such as canned pulses and meat-free sausages have been added, reflecting the increased take-up of plant-based diets, which the ONS said is “driven by the younger generations as a result of growing social responsibility and health awareness”.

As we move away from fossil fuels and towards carbon-free energy alternatives, coal has also been plucked from the basket. “Sales of domestic coal will be banned in 2023 as part of the government's actions to combat climate change,” said the ONS.

However, while households’ healthier food choices and growing relationship with health and fitness is reflected in this year’s basket, in some areas, positive changes have gone up in smoke.

In the cigarettes section, 20 king-size cigarettes have unfortunately been replaced by 20 super king-size cigarettes.

Overall, there are 733 items in the “shopping basket”. The ONS disclosed that it will be finding alternative data sources to better represent changes in prices and spending in the future with 'scanner data directly from supermarkets' being one method being employed from 2024.

Whether it’s a disadvantage or an advantage for any specific activity, such as climbing or a gym membership, to be tracked for inflationary pressure is not immediately clear.

The answer to this question is likely to dictate whether the activity sector lobbies for greater inclusion in the basket going forward.

ONS  inflation  sports bras  climbing  physical activity  plant-based diet 
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