Consumer Price Index, May 2012

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Consumer prices rose 1.2% in the 12 months to May, following a 2.0% increase in April. This 0.8 percentage point difference was mostly attributable to declines for gasoline prices. Decreases in clothing prices as well as slower price gains for the purchase of passenger vehicles were also factors.

The energy index fell 1.6% in the 12 months to May, its first year-over-year decline since October 2009. Natural gas prices (-16.6%) continued to post declines. Gasoline prices decreased 2.3%, after 22 months of year-over-year increases. In contrast, electricity prices continued to rise.

Chart 1 
The 12-month change in the energy index
Chart 1: The 12-month change in the energy index

Chart description: The 12-month change in the energy index

CSV version of the chart

Excluding energy, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 1.7% in the 12 months to May after increasing 2.1% in April. For the second consecutive month, the CPI excluding energy increased at a faster rate than the All-items CPI.

Chart 2 
The 12-month change in the CPI and the CPI excluding energy
Chart 2: The 12-month change in the CPI and the CPI excluding energy

Chart description: The 12-month change in the CPI and the CPI excluding energy

CSV version of the chart

12-month change in the major components

The 0.8 percentage point slowdown in the CPI in May was led by smaller price gains for transportation, as well as price declines for clothing and footwear.

Chart 3 
Transportation and clothing and footwear lead the slowdown in the Consumer Price Index
Chart 3: Transportation and clothing and footwear lead the slowdown in the Consumer Price Index

Chart description: Transportation and clothing and footwear lead the slowdown in the Consumer Price Index

CSV version of the chart

Transportation costs rose 0.8% in the 12 months to May after increasing 3.2% in April. This slower rate of increase was largely the result of year-over-year price declines in gasoline and, to a lesser extent, smaller price increases for the purchase of passenger vehicles.

Prices for clothing and footwear were down 0.3% in the 12 months to May, following a 2.4% rise in April. This decrease was mostly the result of more women's clothing being discounted in May 2012 compared with May 2011.

The main upward contributors to the 1.2% rise in the CPI were higher prices for food and shelter. Prices for food purchased from stores (+2.5%) and electricity (+5.4%) rose in the 12 months to May.

12-month change in the provinces

In the 12 months to May, consumer prices rose at a slower rate in all provinces compared with April. Newfoundland and Labrador (+2.5%) continued to post the largest increase, while Alberta (+0.4%) continued to record the lowest.

Chart 4 
Consumer prices rise at a slower rate in every province
Chart 4: Consumer prices rise at a slower rate in every province

Chart description: Consumer prices rise at a slower rate in every province

CSV version of the chart

The decline in gasoline prices was a major factor in the easing of all provincial CPIs.

The CPI in British Columbia did not ease to the same extent as those of other provinces, rising 1.3% in the 12 months to May, following an increase of 1.6% in April. Gasoline prices in British Columbia decelerated the least of any province.

Seasonally adjusted monthly Consumer Price Index decreases

On a seasonally adjusted monthly basis, the CPI declined 0.2% in May, after increasing 0.2% in the previous two months.

The seasonally adjusted index for transportation, which includes gasoline and the purchase of passenger vehicles, fell 1.6%, following a 0.2% increase in April. The clothing and footwear index declined 0.8% in May, after increasing 1.1% the previous month.

Bank of Canada's core index

The Bank of Canada's core index rose 1.8% in the 12 months to May, following a 2.1% gain in April. Price gains for electricity, food purchased from restaurants and meat continued to be main contributors to the year-over-year increase in the core index.

On a monthly basis, the seasonally adjusted core index was unchanged in May, after rising 0.4% the previous month.

Note to readers

The special aggregate "Energy" includes: electricity; natural gas; fuel oil and other fuels; gasoline; and fuel, parts and supplies for recreational vehicles.

The Bank of Canada's core index excludes eight of the Consumer Price Index's most volatile components (fruit, fruit preparations and nuts; vegetables and vegetable preparations; mortgage interest cost; natural gas; fuel oil and other fuels; gasoline; inter-city transportation; and tobacco products and smokers' supplies) as well as the effects of changes in indirect taxes on the remaining components.

Available without charge in CANSIM: tables CANSIM table326-0009, CANSIM table326-0012, CANSIM table326-0015 and CANSIM table326-0020 to 326-0022.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number survey number2301.

For a more detailed analysis, consult the publication The Consumer Price Index. The May 2012 issue of The Consumer Price Index, Vol. 91, no. 5 (Catalogue number62-001-X, free), is now available from the Key resource module of our website under Publications.

More information about the concepts and use of the Consumer Price Index are also available online in Your Guide to the Consumer Price Index (Catalogue number62-557-X, free) from the Key resource module of our website under Publications.

The Consumer Price Index for June will be released on July 20.

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Statistics Canada's National Contact Centre (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 613-951-8116; infostats@statcan.gc.ca) or the Media Hotline (613-951-4636; mediahotline@statcan.gc.ca).