Out goes the stepladder, in comes teen fiction


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The Independent Online

What do the Twilight novels, a pineapple and an iPad have in common? The answer, from the price-watchers at the Office for National Statistics, is that they have all found their way into the nation's average "shopping basket", joining the sponge cake and the rotisserie chicken on the index of 700 items used to calculate inflation rates.

As in previous years, the revised basket offers a snapshot of British life, as new items mark the advent of modern trends and technologies while relics of outmoded tastes and habits gradually drop of the list of items.

In 2012, tablet computers, such as the iPad, are included only a year after the smartphone first made the list. The success of "young adult fiction" novels such as the Twilight saga and The Hunger Games has seen it included in the index alongside adult and children's literature.

In the food and drink category, new entries include the pineapple, soft continental cheese, cans of stout and hot oat cereals. The British love affair with takeaway food is now represented by the inclusion of chicken and chips on the list, alongside fish and chips and the "ethnic takeaway", first listed in 1990.

Items that have vanished include the former staples of the British schoolboy's diet, the boiled sweet and candy-covered chocolate, which have been replaced by the more generic "bagged sweet" category. Charges for developing and printing colour film have also dropped off the list, superseded by digital photography. The nation's interest in DIY might also be waning, with the removal of stepladders from the index.

The Office for National Statistics annually reviews the shopping basket of items used to compile the two main measures of inflation, the Consumer Prices Index - used as the Bank of England's inflation target - and the Retail Prices Index (RPI), which includes housing costs and is used by many employers to set wages.

The statisticians' choice of items representative of the average British consumer was first compiled in 1947, when it included candles and the mangle.