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Consumer Price Index, March 2016

Released: 2016-04-22

Consumer Price Index

March 2016

1.3% 

(12-month change)

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 1.3% in the 12 months to March, after increasing 1.4% in February.

Excluding gasoline, the CPI rose 1.9% year over year in March, matching the increase in February.

Chart 1  Chart 1: The 12-month change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and the CPI excluding gasoline
The 12-month change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and the CPI excluding gasoline

Despite a 5.7% monthly increase in gasoline prices in March, the gasoline index was down 13.6% year over year in March, after declining 13.1% in the 12 months to February.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Gasoline price index
Gasoline price index

12-month change in the major components

Prices rose in six of the eight major components on a year-over-year basis in March, with the food and shelter indexes contributing the most to the increase in the CPI. The transportation index, which includes gasoline, and the clothing and footwear index declined on a year-over-year basis in March.

Chart 3  Chart 3: Consumer prices increase in six of eight major components
Consumer prices increase in six of eight major components

Food prices were up 3.6% year over year in March, after rising 3.9% in February. Prices for food purchased from stores increased 4.0% year over year, following a 4.4% gain the previous month. The 12-month growth rate in the fresh vegetables index (+14.9%) and the fresh fruit index (+11.3%) slowed in March compared with February. The meat index rose 3.2% year over year in March, its largest increase since November 2015. Prices for food purchased from restaurants were up 2.6% year over year in March, following a 2.7% increase the previous month.

The transportation index decreased 1.0% in the 12 months to March, following a 0.5% decline in February. Lower year-over-year gasoline prices partly contributed to the decrease. The index for purchase of passenger vehicles was up 3.2% year over year in March, after increasing 5.0% the previous month.

The clothing and footwear index was down 0.4% year over year in March, after decreasing 1.3% in February. Shoppers paid 1.8% less for women's clothing in March compared with the same month a year earlier. Prices for children's clothing increased more on a year-over-year basis in March (+2.6%) than in February (+0.9%).

12-month change in the provinces

On a year-over-year basis, consumer prices in eight provinces rose less on a year-over-year basis in March than in February. Conversely, in Alberta and British Columbia, consumer prices rose more on a year-over-year basis in March than the previous month.

In the Prairie provinces, gasoline prices posted smaller declines year over year in March than in the previous month. In the other provinces, gasoline prices were down more on a year-over-year basis in March than in February.

Chart 4  Chart 4: Consumer prices rise in all provinces
Consumer prices rise in all provinces

In Nova Scotia, the CPI rose 0.4% in the 12 months to March, after posting a 1.3% gain in February. Gasoline prices were down more in Nova Scotia than at the national level, declining 18.7% year over year in March. The fuel oil index (-28.7%) recorded its largest year-over-year decline since September 2009. The relative weights for gasoline and fuel oil are larger in Nova Scotia than at the national level, which contributed to a greater deceleration of the all-items CPI in Nova Scotia than at the national level.

Ontario's CPI posted a 1.5% gain in the 12 months to March, following a 1.6% increase the previous month. The fresh fruit index was up less in the 12 months to March (+14.7%) than in February (+19.7%). Cigarette prices were up 7.0% year over year in March, partly because of an increase in the province's tobacco tax that took effect on February 26, 2016.

In Alberta, consumer prices rose 1.5% year over year in March, following a 1.4% increase in February. Gasoline prices were down 9.9% in the 12 months to March, a smaller decline than at the national level; on a monthly basis, gasoline prices increased 20.5%. On a year-over-year basis, the rent index (-0.4%) posted its second consecutive decline, while on a monthly basis, rent decreased for the seventh time in eight months.

The CPI in British Columbia was up 1.7% year over year in March, after increasing 1.6% in February. The furniture index was up 5.7% in the 12 months to March, its largest year-over-year increase since November 2013. In contrast, the indexes for men's and children's clothing posted smaller year-over-year increases in March than in the previous month.

Seasonally adjusted monthly Consumer Price Index increases

On a seasonally adjusted monthly basis, the CPI increased 0.2% in March, following a 0.2% decrease in February.

Chart 5  Chart 5: Seasonally adjusted monthly Consumer Price Index
Seasonally adjusted monthly Consumer Price Index

In March, all major components increased on a seasonally adjusted monthly basis.

The clothing and footwear index was up 0.5% on a seasonally adjusted monthly basis in March, after it posted a 0.5% decrease the previous month.

On a seasonally adjusted monthly basis, the food index rose 0.1% in March, matching the gain in February. Before seasonal adjustment, the food index decreased 0.3% in March.

Bank of Canada's core index

The Bank of Canada's core index increased 2.1% in the 12 months to March, after rising 1.9% in February.

The seasonally adjusted core index was up 0.3% on a monthly basis in March, after posting a 0.2% increase in February.




  Note to readers

A seasonally adjusted series is one from which seasonal movements have been eliminated. Users employing Consumer Price Index (CPI) data for indexation purposes are advised to use the unadjusted indexes. For more information on seasonal adjustment, see Seasonally adjusted data – Frequently asked questions.

The Bank of Canada's core index excludes eight of the CPI'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.

Next release

The CPI for April will be released on May 20.

Products

The March 2016 issue of The Consumer Price Index, Vol. 95, no. 3 (Catalogue number62-001-X), is now available from the Browse by key resource module of our website, under Publications.

More information about the concepts and use of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is available in The Canadian Consumer Price Index Reference Paper (Catalogue number62-553-X).

For information on the history of the CPI in Canada, consult the publication Exploring the first century of Canada's Consumer Price Index (Catalogue number62-604-X).

Two videos, "An Overview of Canada's Consumer Price Index (CPI)" and "The Consumer Price Index and Your Experience of Price Change," are available on Statistics Canada's YouTube channel.

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; STATCAN.infostats-infostats.STATCAN@canada.ca) or Media Relations (613-951-4636; STATCAN.mediahotline-ligneinfomedias.STATCAN@canada.ca).

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