Consumer prices rise 1.7 percent in first quarter

The average cost of goods and services in Cayman has increased by 1.7 percent in the first quarter of this year, the fastest rate in three years.

The main drivers of inflation in the consumer price index were the restaurant and hotels category, which jumped 9 percent compared to the same period in 2016. Accommodation services showed a 29.3 percent price increase, while the average cost of catering services rose 5.8 percent, statistics released by the Economics and Statistics Office show.

The cost of clothing and food went up by 4.7 percent, and the average expenditure for recreation and culture was 2.9 percent higher than a year earlier.

Housing, one of the largest items in the basket of consumer goods and services used for the calculation of the CPI, and rents, in particular, also drove up the cost for consumers. Rents surged by 5 percent and repair and maintenance costs for dwellings were 3.6 percent higher.

However, a decrease in water supply and other services of 7.2 percent, as well as a 1.7 percent lower cost of electricity, gas and other fuels cushioned other price increases.

In terms of food, fish and seafood rose by 10 percent and accounted for the highest price increase in this segment. The cost of milk, cheese and eggs was 5.5 percent higher; mineral water, soft drinks, fruit and vegetable juices, and oils and fats also showed above-average price increases.

Meanwhile, other food items like vegetables were 8.8 percent cheaper; meat products declined by 4.6 percent and prices for coffee, tea, and cocoa were 1.8 percent lower.

Merchandise imports fell by 2 percent.

The total value of all merchandise goods imported into the Cayman Islands in the first quarter of 2017 amounted to $207.8 million. This is lower by $4.3 million compared with the same period in 2016 as imports of machinery and transportation equipment, chemical products and commodities fell significantly, according to the Economics and Statistics Office’s Quarterly Trade Bulletin.

Imports of petroleum and related-products, in turn, grew by more than half (50.4 percent), and the total value of food imports increased by 4 percent.

The overall decline was due to a 6.1 percent reduction in the total value of non-petroleum products, which accounted for 88.9 percent of total imports.

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