Grocery prices climb higher in December

The slight decrease in Canada’s inflation rate in December 2022 was overshadowed by the prices of groceries which continued to sky rocket, as per the latest report from the national statistical agency. Prices for personal care supplies and equipment also continued to grow at a faster rate, Statistics Canada (StatCan) said.

December’s inflation rate was measured at 6.3% year over year, when compared to 6.8% in November. Excluding food and energy, prices rose 5.3% on a yearly basis in December, following a gain of 5.4% in November.

The headline Consumer Price Index (CPI) grew at a slower pace largely due to slower growth in prices for gasoline. Additional deceleration came from homeowners’ replacement cost, fuel oil and other owned accommodation expenses, as well as from various durable goods. Slower price growth was offset by increases in mortgage interest cost, clothing and footwear and personal care supplies and equipment.

On a monthly basis, the CPI fell 0.6% in December following a 0.1% gain in November. The monthly decline in December is the largest since April 2020, mostly driven by gasoline prices, which also posted their largest monthly decline since April 2020. 

Year over year, prices for food purchased from stores decelerated marginally in December (+11.0%) compared with November (+11.4%), with price growth hovering around 11% for the last five months.

Prices in December rose at a slower pace for a number of food items, including non-alcoholic beverages (+16.6%), bakery products (+13.5%), coffee and tea (+13.2%), other food preparations (+11.5%) and preserved fruit and fruit preparations (+7.2%).

Slowing price growth for groceries was offset by prices for fresh vegetables, which rose 13.6% in December following an 11.2% increase in November. Accelerated price growth was widespread across vegetables, including tomatoes (+21.9%) and other fresh vegetables (+11.7%) amid unfavourable weather in growing regions.

Prices for personal care supplies and equipment grew 9.9% year over year in December, the largest increase since February 1983. Price growth has trended upward since April 2021 as a result of broad-based increases among personal soap, toiletry items and cosmetics, oral-hygiene products and other personal care supplies and equipment.

Year over year, prices rose at a slower pace in December compared with November in all provinces. Prices decelerated the most in Atlantic provinces, largely the result of lower prices for furnace fuel oil, which is commonly used for home heating in Atlantic Canada. Prices for gasoline fell in all provinces but declined the most in Alberta and in Atlantic Canada.

Daniel Blaikie, the NDP critic for Finance, says the inflation crisis is being driven by corporate greed.

 “While Canadians stretch every dollar, cross items off their grocery list and downsize, corporations are raking in record profits. Loblaws alone is making one million dollars in extra windfall profit every single day. The greedflation could not be more clear,” Blaikie said in a statement on the StatCan report. 

Today’s inflation numbers should be a wake-up call to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, he added.

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