Cigarettes and beauty care show biggest price rises

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Homeowners struggling to cope with rising interest rates should curse their hairdresser, new research shows today.

Homeowners struggling to cope with rising interest rates should curse their hairdresser, new research shows today.

The cost of personal services, which include beauty care and alternative medicine as well as hair care, has made the largest contribution to inflation over the last 15 years, other than cigarettes.

The price of a packet of fags has tripled since 1989, but that is thanks mostly to the Government's policy of hiking the tax on tobacco in every Budget for health reasons.

In terms of typical high street inflation, personal services were not far behind with prices up by 164 per cent in the 15 years to June 2004.

The figures are based on analysis of official inflation figures produced every month by the Office for National Statistics.

Its personal services category also includes dental charges, eye tests, private medical insurance, nursing home fees, full leg waxes and delivered flowers. All the other items in the top five fell within the services category, which has seen fastest growth rates over the last few years.

Prices of services have not been affected by the rise in the value of the pound, which has kept down the value of imported high street goods.

The prices of recreational activities such as golf fees, cinema tickets, sports club membership and football season tickets have jumped by 157 per cent over the same period. They were followed closely by a 147 per cent rise in the cost of repairs and maintenance charges - confirming Londoners' gripes at the rising prices charged by plumbers and electricians.

Surprisingly the rising cost of a meal in the average works canteen has outpaced increases in restaurant and take-away meals - 143 per cent against 94 per cent. This was in stark contrast to massive price cuts across a range of high street goods. Audio-visual equipment has tumbled 74 per cent, women's clothes have fallen 34 per cent while children's clothing and electrical appliances fell one-fifth.

Martin Ellis, chief economist at Halifax, said: "There's a big split between services and goods. The international effect comes through very clearly. Particularly on textiles and more recently audio equipment coming from the Far East, prices are falling. But when it comes to services, resources are scarce."