The Office for National Statistics has a unique way to measure the cost of living, which involves monitoring sales of a wide range of products. The last year has seen more tech and tech-related items added to that roster – and in this blog we’ll look at potential more techy additions for the future…
One of the brilliant things about the ONS is that work done by the government body not only provides a general guide or index to the current cost of living, it also acts as something of a window into the patterns and nuances (and outright quirks) of human behaviour. You can pretty much tell, from the items used to put together the index of the cost of living, what that living has entailed over the collation period.
Each year the ONS puts together a ‘shopping basket’ of popular goods which reflects contemporary habits and technology. More specifically, the basket ‘rolls on’ each year and goods are added or deleted from it as public tastes and habits change. From this basket the ONS works out the inflation rate and, therefore, they are able to chart the current and changing cost of living.
Covid impact on tech inclusion
The coronavirus pandemic has – obviously – had a massive impact on everything. The last 12 months have been plagued (ho ho) by lockdowns, and so the ONS has been obliged to alter their basket to reflect this. Sales of hand sanitiser have sky-rocketed, as have sales of hand-weights (as people were locked down at home and those who would usually be able to visit a gym to keep fit were unable to do so). The ONS’s basket also now includes smartwatches, which makes sense as the devices will have been used for keeping track of keeping fit at home by a more exercise-conscious society.
The smartwatch is, in a way, the most interesting addition. Obviously as more people are leading potentially more sedentary lives due to the fact that there is little or no access to gyms, there is an awareness that ‘keeping fit ain’t what it used to be’. So a lot of it must be undertaken and monitored at home. So that’s good – there is a visible shift towards people taking care of themselves. But the fact this device makes an appearance in the basket suggests that the changes in the way the ONS measures the cost of living are going to embrace advances in tech, as more people ‘stay at home’ for their fun (and their work)!
Also on the current list are jogging bottoms – and their inclusion is cited as because more-and-more people have used ‘lounge wear’ during the pandemic, as they have been stuck at home and in much more ‘relaxed’ mode than if they’d had to ‘properly’ get dressed and go to a place of work.
Of course, there’s not been that much that’s been relaxing about the last twelve months – stress levels have been through the roof (hey, at least it’s been your own roof) and working from home has had its own set of difficulties or challenges. But, anyway, it’s understandable, this shift towards more comfortable clothing. Is everyone wearing loungewear now? It’s up for debate. What do you wear for your mammoth gaming sessions?
Here at Ebuyer we applaud the work of the ONS but we wonder if the items in the ONS’s basket really an accurate reflection of ‘how things are’ for gamers, computer enthusiasts and other tech users? If not, why not? And what items would be? Let us know what you think. Do smartwatches and jogging bottoms really say ‘how it is’ for you? What other items would you add? Let us know in the comments below!
Check out Ebuyer’s selection of smartwatches here. Unfortunately, at this present moment, we don’t stock jogging bottoms!