Thursday, 06 August, 2020


Biggest Fall On Record: June Quarter CPI Collapses

Chart showing the annual CPI movement from 1949-2020 Annual consumer price index movement from 1949 to 2020
Conrad Doyle | 01 August, 2020, 15:56

"This time around, although we are in recession now, the fall in the CPI is more the result of the one-off fall in childcare prices due to the Government's decision to make it free for part of the shutdown and the fall in petrol prices".

New dwelling purchase prices measures construction costs for new homes is the largest line item in the CPI basket and it decelerated to 0.1 percent from 0.4 percent in the first quarter.

The federal government's free childcare program, costing taxpayers $1.6billion, caused those costs to plunge by 95 per cent while the provision of free preschool in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland sparked a 16.2 per cent plummet in the cost of primary education costs.

"Excluding these three components, the CPI would have risen 0.1 per cent in the June quarter", ABS chief economist Bruce Hockman said.

Over the June quarter, the ABS said the CPI fell 1.9 per cent, which is the biggest drop ever recorded since CPI began tracking consumer good and services back in 1948. Annual inflation fell to minus 0.3% from 2.2% three months earlier.

While fuel and childcare costs were down, rent also decreased slightly over the quarter, falling 1.3 per cent.

Interestingly, the ABS found several COVID-19 related "essentials" - such as chest freezers, office furniture, and canned foods - jumped in price following strong demand.

Overall the annual inflation rate was a negative 0.3 per cent in the year to June, just the third time since 1949 that inflation has been negative, figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed on Wednesday.

"Thereafter it is likely rental rates will fall further and will take quite some time to recover to previous highs".

"Despite numerous shocks being one offs that are set to be reversed, the COVID shutdown has shifted what we thought were signs of a recovery to a broader mixed outcome with signs of an underlying deflationary trend in many series again in the third quarter", he said.

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