28 Dec 2021 15:28

Rosstat adjusting methodology of weekly inflation, shifting period of price tracking for monthly inflation, to include cash register, web screening data

MOSCOW. Dec 28 (Interfax) - Beginning on January 1, the Federal State Statistics Service (Rosstat) will change the methodology for calculating weekly inflation, bringing it closer to the monthly methodology, while also adjusting the timing of price tracking, maintaining the time of publication but making a slight adjustment to the set of goods and services tracked. Furthermore, the agency will begin an experiment in using cash register equipment (CRE) and web scraping (technology to extract online data from Web pages), Rosstat said in a statement.

"Starting in January 2022, changes will be made to the calculation of the weekly estimate of the consumer price index (CPI). It will be carried out according to the same algorithm as the monthly CPI - using the Laspeyres formula. Changes in the formula for calculating the estimate of the weekly CPI will bring the result of accumulated weekly estimates closer to the actual CPI for the month," Rosstat said.

At the same time, the procedure for tracking prices to calculate the weekly estimates and the monthly CPI has been adjusted.

"The weekly registration of consumer prices is being moved from Monday to Friday. This will allow for logging of prices at food markets, which do not operate on Monday (36% of all markets falling under Rosstat monitoring), as well as weekend fairs, which start operations on Friday. Monthly registration of consumer prices will be held on the last 5 days of the month (it used to begin on the 20th and end on the 25th of the reporting month)," Rosstat said.

Prices for gasoline and diesel fuel will be registered weekly in all monitored cities, not only in regional centers, as was the case before.

"The timing of information disclosure on the Rosstat website will not change," the agency said.

In addition, minor changes were made to the set of consumer goods and services. The number of items for calculating the CPI for the month increased from 556 to 558, including 129 food products, 292 non-food products and 137 services.

Most of the changes concern the list of medicines, which has been updated on the basis of the analysis of the volume of sales of medicines and taking into account proposals from the Ministry of Health. Instead of 53 medicines, prices for 64 will now be observed.

A decision was made to combine representative goods with similar consumer properties that have similar average prices and price change trends. For example, fat and non-fat tvorog or farmer's cheese have been combined into the single "tvorog" category.

"Given the low share of imported beer and imported cigarettes, these goods produced in the country both as original Russian brands and as analogues of foreign brands are also combined into one item. The exception is the preserved division into domestically produced cars, primarily Avtovaz products, and cars of foreign manufacturers, which also includes cars made in Russia at car plants of foreign brands," Rosstat said.

"Based on the analysis of current demand and consumer spending structure studies, three new services were introduced that are in demand, including a trip to Egypt or the cost of a monthly fitness center membership. At the same time, such items as a sightseeing bus ride through European cities or servicing a bank card in local currency were excluded (a standard debit card is usually provided by banks with free service)," the statement also said.

Weekly registration of prices, as in 2021, will be carried out for 106 representative goods and services. However, the list of goods and services has been changed. It now includes four new goods (vegetables and fruits - table beets and bananas, drugs - rengalin and ergoferon). Three goods and one service (metal roofing tiles, bromhexin, domestic multivitamins without minerals and a trip to Greece) were excluded.

Rosstat also reported that from January 2022 it will begin conducting an experimental parallel calculation of CPI [it will be conducted in parallel with the current methodology of data collection, but the results will not be officially published in 2022] using new sources - "big data", including information from cash register equipment or from receipts; information from the State Information System of Product Labeling (GIS MT); information obtained by web scraping (a technology of web-page sifting) or based on monitoring of online sales.

"These changes will take effect Jan. 1, 2023, after experimental calculations during 2022," the agency said.

"The changes affect the lower level of processing of primary information. For the formation of aggregate indicators of price indices and average prices, the current methodology of calculation is preserved. This allows us to preserve the comparability of information with previous years," Rosstat said.