THE December price growth in retail goods in Metro Manila was 6%, unchanged from the two preceding months and still the highest reading in 14 years, led by the food segment, according to preliminary data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
The PSA said on Wednesday that the general retail price index (GRPI) in the National Capital Region (NCR) was still significantly higher than the year-earlier level of 2.1%.
December marked the third consecutive month that retail inflation hit the 6% level. These months’ readings were the highest since the 6.8% posted in November 2008.
This brought full-year retail inflation to an average of 4.5%, more than double the 2% pace in 2021. With 2012 prices as the base, 2022 retail inflation was the highest since the 6.6% recorded in 2008.
Union Bank of the Philippines, Inc. Chief Economist Ruben Carlo O. Asuncion said in an e-mail that GRPI data track the price movements seen in the December consumer price index (CPI).
“The rise of prices in general has contributed to changes in retail prices bought by end-consumers. In 2021, movements of the GRPI were characterized by either small rises or minuscule declines,” Mr. Asuncion said.
Headline inflation in December, which uses 2018 prices, also hit a 14-year high of 8.1% as food grew more costly. The December outcome was higher than the 8% logged in November and the 3.1% in December 2021.
Inflation averaged a 14-year high of 5.8% in 2022, in line with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) 2022 inflation forecast but breaching the bank’s 2% to 4% target range.
“Food inflation was the biggest source of movement for headline inflation, and it is not surprising that GRPI of food for NCR is also the highest,” Mr. Asuncion said.
The statistics agency said food price growth accelerated to 9.9% in December from 9.7% in November. Also posting higher growth was crude materials, inedible except fuels (4.7% from 4.3%).
Price growth eased in manufactured goods classified chiefly by materials (3.4% from 3.5%); beverages and tobacco (6.7% from 7.0%); and mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials (14.3% from 15.1%).
December retail price growth was unchanged month on month in machinery and transport equipment (1.1%); miscellaneous manufactured articles (1.5%); and chemicals, including animal and vegetable oils and fats (3.5%).
“As expected for headline inflation in 2023, we do expect the GRPI to also decline,” Mr. Asuncion said.
The BSP expects headline inflation to fall within the 2-4% target range by the second half of 2023. — Ana Olivia A. Tirona