March 15, 2011 / 1:27 PM / 8 years ago

Dating agencies make debut in UK inflation basket

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Online dating agencies and smart phones are in, pork shoulder and regional newspapers are out, according to Britain’s statistics office.

Its annual rejig of the “shopping basket” used to calculate inflation reflects Britons’ changing tastes as well as the growing impact of new technology.

Smart phones as well as the downloadable applications that run on them have been added, and will replace mobile phone ringtones and other downloads. Large flat-screen TVs also feature separately for the first time, reflect the growing popularity of home cinema systems.

“Many of these new items show the way technology is changing our lives. Powerful smart phones and the applications that run on them have become essential for many when communicating or seeking information,” said Phil Gooding, a statistician at Britain’s Office for National Statistics.

Also making their debut are dating agencies, reflecting the growing popularity on online matchmaker sites.

“Increasing numbers of people now seek a partner via internet dating sites,” said Gooding.

Statisticians in Britain base their monthly calculation of consumer price inflation on a basket of 650 items in 12 sectors, including food, clothing, housing and household services, furniture, transport, recreation and culture and restaurants and hotels.

Cigarette vending machines are being removed from the basket ahead of legislation to restrict the sale of cigarettes that will come into force this year.

Also out is pork shoulder, which is being replaced by oven-ready joints, as Britons move further toward more pre- prepared foods.

The changes are designed to reflect the changing nature of Britons’ lives and unlikely to have any significant bearing on Britain’s inflation rate which, at 4 percent, is currently twice the Bank of England’s target.

Reporting by Christina Fincher

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