Prices higher

Price increases for standard household goods, vehicle maintenance, clothing and groceries showed no signs of slowing in the most recent report from the Cayman Islands Economics and Statistics Office.

According to the report for the third quarter of 2007, encompassing July, August and September, the consumer price index rose by 3.1 per cent when compared to the third quarter of 2006.

The increases were driven mainly by three categories of consumer spending; household equipment, clothing and food.

Worldwide jumps in the prices of dairy products, eggs and meats have been noted over the past year and Cayman was no exception to the trend.

The average price of food here in the third quarter of ’07 increased by 5.3 per cent. Increases were seen across all foods except for fruits and vegetables. Dairy products and eggs went up by some 14.3 per cent when compared with the third quarter of 2006. Fish prices went up by 9 per cent.

Senior economist Adolphus Laidlow told the Caymanian Compass last year that the world food market is facing greater demand from countries whose economies are beginning to emerge.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the cost of a dozen eggs in the US had risen 38 per cent to $1.86; a gallon of milk was up 30 per cent to $3.90; and a 24 ounce loaf of bread now costs $2.67, up about 12 per cent.

Clothing costs, particularly for adults, rose sharply in the third quarter of 2007 along with the cost of household equipment. Both went up more than 14 per cent.

Transportation is also costing more, mainly because of the cost of fuel. However, the Economics and Statistics Office report also showed an increase in the purchase price for motor vehicles of about 2.7 per cent.

Personal goods and services were also costing the consumer more. The ESO report said minimum rates for maid services and baby sitters rose by about 50 per cent from the third quarter of ’06 to the third quarter of ’07. Gardening services and window cleaning costs also rose about 25 percent in that time.

The report showed the rising cost of goods and services meant people had less money for holiday-related spending and entertainment activities. Spending in both categories fell by a large margin: a 12.6 per cent drop was recorded in holiday spending and a 7.6 per cent decrease was seen in entertainment spending.

The only slight decrease in a major area of consumer spending was housing, where the average cost of rent, maintenance, and insurance dropped by 0.1 per cent. That was offset by a 5.5 per cent increase in utility bills.