Higher accommodation prices contribute to New Zealand's inflation: statistics

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WELLINGTON, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- Higher prices for domestic accommodation, building a new home, and used cars led to a 0.5 percent lift in New Zealand's consumers price index in the December 2020 quarter, keeping annual inflation at 1.4 percent, the country's statistics department Stats NZ said on Friday.

On a quarterly basis, domestic accommodation services were the top contributor to the CPI increase, up 20 percent in the December 2020 quarter, despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on international tourism, Stats NZ said.

Annually, prices for domestic accommodation services increased 6.2 percent, it said.

Domestic accommodation services include prices for hotels, motels, caravan parks and camping grounds, and privately rented accommodation like Airbnb and Bookabach. Prices increased across all these categories in the December 2020 quarter, prices senior manager Aaron Beck said in a statement.

"We saw lower price levels for domestic accommodation in the June and September 2020 quarters, which coincided with a campaign to increase domestic tourism after COVID-19 lockdowns. The December 2020 quarter seasonal price rise, which took prices to near normal levels, therefore resulted in a larger than usual percentage change movement," Beck said.

COVID-19 travel restrictions have meant that Kiwis who planned to go overseas are now travelling more domestically, or looking to upgrade their cars, furniture, and electronics, he said.

"All these items had price rises in the December quarter, affected by a combination of factors including seasonality, increased demand, decreased supply, and fewer specials," Beck said.

Prices for used cars also rose this quarter, up 4.6 percent, the largest quarterly rise since the December 1997 quarter, he said.

"We also saw price rises for beds, TVs, and cellphones this quarter," Beck said.

The cost of building a new house rose 1.3 percent in the December quarter, the biggest quarterly rise in more than two years. Annually, purchase of new housing increased 3.3 percent, statistics showed.

Annual inflation for the year to December 2020 was 1.4 percent, rising at the same pace as it did last quarter. Annual inflation remains relatively stable despite overall price rises in the past two quarters which were partially offset by an overall fall in the June quarter as the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, Stats NZ said. Enditem

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