The Everyday Price Index (EPI) increased 0.8 percent in March. The Consumer Price Index (CPI), on the other hand, increased less, recording a 0.2 percent gain. Over the past 12 months the EPI has dropped 2.8 percent while the CPI has decreased only 0.1 percent. The large downturn in the EPI over the past 12 months was due to a precipitous decline in gasoline prices; the EPI assigns a greater weight to gasoline relative to the CPI.
Gasoline prices firmed for the second consecutive month in March, increasing 10.5 percent. All grades of gasoline increased in March. Regular increased 10.4 percent, midgrade increased 9.2 percent, and premium increased 10.1 percent. Even though gasoline prices increased in March they have fallen 29.2 percent over the last 12 months. Other everyday energy prices were lower in March. Utility gas prices fell 1.9 percent and electricity prices decreased 1.3 percent.
Food at home and food away from home are major components of the EPI. Prices for food at home turned lower in March, decreasing 0.5 percent. Looking at the major food-at-home categories, meats and dairy both decreased 0.5 percent and fresh fruits and vegetables decreased 2.2 percent, while cereal and bakery prices turned up, gaining 0.3 percent. Prices for other foods at home edged down 0.2 percent, but there were large declines in butter and condiments, which decreased 4.7 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively. After a 2.9 percent run-up over the past 12 months, prices for food away from home increased slightly in March, rising 0.1 percent.
Prices for maintaining health and appearance were mixed in March. Personal care services increased 0.6 percent, while personal care products decreased 0.3 percent. Within personal care products, prices for cosmetics were down 0.7 percent, but prices for hair and dental products were flat. Other everyday healthcare items include prescription drugs and medical supplies, which moved higher by 0.3 percent. Getting out of the house and exercising was more affordable in March; prices for gym memberships and group sports declined for the second month in a row, dipping 0.3 percent.
About the EPI
AIER’s Everyday Price Index (EPI) measures the changing prices of frequently purchased items like food and utilities. We do this by selecting the prices of goods and services from the thousands collected monthly by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in computing its Consumer Price Index. The EPI basket contains only prices of goods and services that Americans typically buy at least once a month, excluding contractually fixed purchases such as mortgages. Our staff economists weight each EPI category in proportion to its share of Americans’ average monthly expenditures. In order to better reflect the out-of-pocket prices that consumers experience on a daily basis, the EPI does not seasonally adjust prices.
To learn more about our methodology, view the weights assigned to each component, and browse past EPI updates, visit AIER’s EPI Methodology page.