PracticalDad Price Index – March 2015:  Cliff-Diving in the Supermarket

The pricing for the March 2015 version of the 47 item PracticalDad Price Index marketbasket was completed and the results were frankly surprising.  The Total Index of 47 items declined by 1.33 points to March’s level of 108.09 (November 2010 = 100) while the Food-Only Sub-Index of the 37 Foodstuff items dropped by 2.19 points (November 2010 = 100) to 109.89 from February.  This is the largest single monthly decline in the Food-Only Sub-Index since the inception of the project in November 2010 and is a 34% decline in that category since it’s peak at 115.13 only four months previously.

So where has this cratering occurred in the past four months?  Despite the understanding that there had been issues in the supply chain for dairy products and meats due to drought-related effects, these are apparently passing as the Meat and Dairy categories declined from the December 2014 peak by 7.43% and 7.41% respectively with most the change occurring during January and February.  Most of the declines occurred during those two months as the category changes showed much smaller declines in the one month period of February through March.  The four item Household Products category (bath soap, aluminum foil, kitchen trash bags and paper towels) declined by 7.15% since the December 2014 peak with the majority of the decline taking place in the one month period of February through March 2015. In the case of the Meat category, much of the change occurred as grocers found new suppliers for ham and chicken, driving the prices down since the peak by 24.3% and 14.3% respectively.  Eggs also declined by 17.5% over the four month period.  In the Dairy category, a gallon of 2% milk dropped by 14.9% and butter by 21.5% over the same four month period, although the changes were dispersed across all of the grocers instead of localized to one or another grocer as new suppliers were found.

So here are the Indices results for the past six months.


PracticalDad Price Index – March 2015
Month Total Index Food-Only Index Spread
10/14 111.11 114.45 3.34
11/14 111.15 113.87 2.72
12/14 111.18 115.13 3.95
1/15 111.32 114.00 2.68
2/15 109.42 112.08 2.66
3/15 108.09 109.89 1.80

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