Consumer prices in the Cayman Islands fell by 1.1 per cent during the first quarter of 2012 and remained stable with only a marginal 0.1 per cent increase compared with the end of March 2011.
The overall Consumer Price Index stood at 99.3 in March 2012 mainly due to a lower cost of imputed rentals (-7.8 per cent), as well as a decrease in the cost of electricity, gas and other fuels (-7.1 per cent) during the first quarter of this year.
Imputed rentals are based on actual rentals for the same type of housing of a sample of owner-occupied houses. Like actual rental prices, imputed rentals have been falling since 2008 and balanced the increasing cost of fuel during that time. Fuel costs, which increased steadily since the second quarter of 2009, experienced their first drop during the first quarter of this year.
Recreation and culture (-1.2 per cent), tobacco (0.4 per cent) and tools and equipment for house and garden (-1.5 per cent) were other items in the basket of consumer prices that declined during the last quarter.
Meanwhile, the cost of health care, clothing, food and transportation grew between 1 and 1.6 per cent in the first quarter, but not sufficiently to offset the drop in housing and fuel costs. The prices for the CPI item, restaurants and hotels, also increased seasonally by 5.3 per cent.
The largest price drivers during the past 12 months in Cayman were the costs of transportation (6.3 per cent), food and non-alcoholic beverage (5.3 per cent) and clothing and footwear (3.6 per cent).
In particular, buying and maintaining a car has become significantly more expensive (7.4 per cent).
Fish and seafood (11 per cent), oils and fats (9.3 per cent), fruits (8.8 per cent) and mineral water, soft drinks, fruits and vegetable juices (7.1 per cent) are the main food items that are more expensive than last year, whereas vegetables prices declined by 1.9 per cent.
Overall, prices increased only marginally during the past 12 months as housing and utilities, the largest item in the consumer price index, which accounts for nearly 40 per cent of the CPI basket, declined by 3.9 per cent.
In particular imputed rentals for owner-occupied housing fell by nearly 10 per cent and actual rentals for housing dropped by 1.6 per cent, partially offsetting the higher cost for water (10 per cent), maintenance and repair of dwelling (5.1 [per cent) and electricity, gas and other fuels (4.2 per cent).