Inflation falls but people feeling price pain

| 10/08/2021 | 63 Comments

(CNS): The Consumer Price Index (CPI) fell by 1% in the first quarter of 2021 against the same three months in 2020, and while three of the twelve CPI divisions that are used to calculated inflation decreased, most people did not feel a drop in the cost of living this spring and continue to navigate what seems to the ordinary person like an unsustainable situation. Although rents are higher than ever before and utility costs are becoming increasingly painful, the Economics and Statistics Office said that in the first quarter of 2021, the division housing and utilities recorded the largest average price decline of 5.1 percent in the CPI basket.

The ESO said that this was due mainly to the drop in the average cost of electricity, which fell by 8.5%; water supply costs, which fell by 6.4%; imputed rentals for owner-occupiers, which fell by 4.6%; and actual rentals paid by tenants, which fell by 4.2%. Comparing the first quarter of 2021 and the fourth quarter of 2020, the CPI fell by 1.7%, as the average cost of housing and utilities declined by 5.7%, education dropped by 1.3%, and household equipment fell by 0.8%.

The ESO also said that the transport index declined by 1.7%, as fuel prices dropped by 13.3%. The index for passenger transport by road decreased by 10.1% and purchase of motor vehicles also went down 7%.

While gas prices may have fallen at the pump earlier this year, that had rapidly increased again. With drivers feeling the sting on the roads, residents took to social media last week to raise the alarm about the prohibitively expensive fuel bills, as the annual rate increase began to take effect and also following CUC’s announcement of soaring profits in its second quarter.

Meanwhile, the ESO report found many other areas where costs are rising. Food and drink was up 4.6% across the board, with significant hikes in food basics such fruit, milk, cheese and eggs, which were up around 11%, while meat prices rose almost 9%. The cost of health services also surged, with medicine increasing by over 13%.

The official figures show a persistent decline in inflation since the end of 2019, when the national rate was running at over 8%. By the end of March it was down to -1%. But there is a clear disparity between the recorded figures and the impact of the actual prices and cost of living on people’s lives.

Meanwhile, as the community struggles with the cost of living, the total value goods imported into Cayman during the first quarter fell by 2.4% for the first quarter of this year. ESO officials said this was due to a decline in food imports, such as meat, vegetables and fruit, cereal and dairy products.

Alcohol, soft drink and clothing imports also fell, while petroleum and related imports recorded a considerable decrease of 27.1%, largely due to the decrease in the importation of motor, aviation and diesel fuel imported.

To read and download both reports visit the ESO website.

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Category: Economy, Politics

Comments (63)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Does anyone commenting here actually understand what the ESO have reported? They are only reporting a quarterly drop, as measured against the same quarter last year. Saying that the report is BS because things are expensive here compared to the US or compared to 2 years ago has nothing to do with the report!

  2. Anonymous says:

    eso are about as useful as ofreg.
    another glorious day for our world class civil service.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I bought groceries at Fosters last week. Everything could fit in 2 bags and the bill was $123 and Fosters is supposed to be cheaper than the other 2 supermarkets. That report is crap. Between rent, mortgage, CUC and groceries I honestly don’t know how many people survive here.

    • Anonymous says:

      SWFL prices in USD, August 2021

      -Starbucks ground coffee, 1 pckg-$7.69
      -Organic apples Granny Smith-$3.49/lb
      -Organic blueberries, fresh-2 for $5.00
      -Organic bananas-$1.25/lb
      -Veal for stew (for one family meal)-$5.38
      -Beef for stew (for one family meal)-$7.33
      -Aqua Panna 750ml mineral water-$1.89
      -Organic Acai Juice Samb-$4.99
      -Organic Half&Half, 1 Qt-$3.49
      -Greewnwise Eggs large brown, 18ct-$7.69
      -Corona Extra 6 pack-$10.49

      Avg monthly electrical bill (1000 sq,ft condo,top second floor with large windows on both sides: morning:NE, evening: SW
      Winter- $35-45

    • Anonymous says:

      It is crazy. Always 100 dollars at least and I end up going every 2 or 3 days

      • Anonymous says:

        It’s expensive, but not nearly as expensive as losing half your paycheck in taxes. So there’s that.

        • Island Dreams says:

          Well, that’s just not true. I run a small but successful company in the UK. I pay 45% tax. On paper, it hurts. But it does not affect me living a pretty great life. Managing your credit score I find is the key.

          That said, I have a lovely country home, filled with all the toys and comforts you could ask for. Because of the market, I am able to purchase from a selection of great European, Asian and American cars without insane added charges. What you pay 30k for I can find for 18k. And even that is considered high!

          My grocery is about £400 for the month, but I do like to shop from the top shelf. Electric is about £150 max, this includes charging my car. Travel is dirt cheap. Clothes are trendy and very affordable. Of course, high street items are what they are anywhere in the world! Restaurants are abundant, adhere to higher quality standards, and again more affordable.

          But of course, that 45% is significant. Well, to that I say, I have free medical, infrastructure is well managed, gov services are automated and user friendly. I do receive some nice kickbacks as well as a business owner! And recently, the govt offered incredible support to the business community across all lockdowns. I also like that my tax dollar while not always going to causes I prefer, is used for social care and support.

          The truth is I never understood folks who fuss over taxes. Especially folks from the Island. Some of you pay half of my total year’s electric bill in one month, every month. You pay 100 dollars for maybe two bags of groceries. Let’s not even talk about the price of a home.

          The whole tax-free starts to matter when you are paying millions on top of millions. Sadly, I am not there…yet! And hence why Cayman exist for the rich and not the poor!

          • Anonymous says:

            There’s obviously a point where the excess cost of groceries and electricity adds up to the same as your tax bill. It’s a lot lower than millions and I’d suggest well under 100k where the salaries for the same job tend to be far higher here anyway. If you have no income then Cayman is certainly an expensive place to live. (although *how* you choose to live also matters – much of the rest of the Caribbean is even more expensive but people live much more simply). Comparing CI to living somewhere cheap in the UK countryside is about as relevant as comparing it to living in Holland Park or Central Park and claiming it’s cheap here.

            • Islanddreams says:

              I follow my budget, and often compare my remaining expenses on the island.I pay much less in the UK mate,even with taxes considered.

              I dont think I said the countryside was cheap. Instead I have a beautiful home in an area of natural beauty at half the cost of a 2bedroom apartment on the island. And let’s be honest here, Cayman outside of SMB is becoming a bit rundown yet prices rise, displacing low and middle income, resulting in top income buyouts. Again to my point, unless you are rich, the numbers just don’t add up.

  4. Anonymous says:

    “Although rents are higher than ever before and utility costs are becoming increasingly painful, the Economics and Statistics Office said that in the first quarter of 2021, the division housing and utilities recorded the largest average price decline of 5.1 percent in the CPI basket.”

    “But there is a clear disparity between the recorded figures and the impact of the actual prices and cost of living on people’s lives.”

    Please provide evidence beyond the anecdotal, CNS. Statements of this nature are about as helpful as the YouTube and Facebook researchers who have it all figured out.

    Is it fair to say that Q2 2021 CPI has likely risen compared to Q1 2021 (which won’t yet be measured and available by the ESO)? Probably. Will Q2 2021 likely be higher than Q2 2020? Almost assuredly based on conditions last year in that quarter. But is it correct or accurate to report on literal findings indicating a decrease in CPI for a specified time period and then make statements indicating that you believe the exact opposite is true? No.

    Please show us how “rents are higher than ever before.” I strongly suspect you will be unable to do so because it’s patently false. Is it the case that rents appear to be higher than what an average person would find reasonable? Maybe – because that’s a subjective statement on the cost of living, not a contestation of the sampling of real rent values undertaken by a government entity. You’re welcome to your own opinions, but not your own facts.

    • Anonymous says:

      CUC has passed on any gas saving to consumers. Thats a fact. For CNS to also suggest that the profits of CUC was because they have unduly hiked their fees is also disingenuous and part of some sort of strange relentless narrative. CUC is listed on the stock exchange, it makes returns through a regulated process. To suddenly decide that they should stop making earnings, would hurt the company and its investors many of which are Caymanians and frankly makes no sense. You can try and make the same suggestion to the food stores if you like. Food costs all over the world are sky high!!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Talking about the reliability of ESO guesstimates, I see their own website still shows the population at 65586. They can’t even be consistent in their propaganda.

  6. Not buying it says:

    My opinion is that either the ESO staff is pulling data from the incorrect source, or they are calculating incorrectly. Rent prices are insane, and soon I will need a second job to pay CUC, whose prices are inching back to the 2017 level.

    • Anonymous says:

      What they are not saying is these stats include customers like the Westin, the Ritz and other commercial buildings that have CUC bills in the 400k range that drastically cut their bills while closed.

      Just one of those hotels will skew the results.

      • Anonymous says:

        ESO actually asks about the rates and bill amounts at specified consumption levels. This is the same for water, too. It avoids changes in behavior when comparing changes in costs.

      • Anonymous says:

        That’s not how it works.

  7. Anonymous says:

    ESO are you sure these are CI stats or from some Lala land?

  8. Anonymous says:

    BB. Beautiful Bidenomics

  9. Anonymous says:

    Ever since, many years ago admittedly, it was revealed that the ESO CPI basket or whatever it’s called, still had, as an item for costing, VHS tapes long after no one was buying them because technology had moved on,I have had zero faith in their ability to reflect inflation as those of us who actually live lives and buy things and pay bills experience it. I keep my Foster’s and Kirk bills for years ( ok, I’m a sad bastard) and the increases on all items are horrendous. But I own my home so don’t rent so the calculations hammer me because rental costs are supposedly down and this means, along with other things that are down that don’t affect most of us, that everything seems hunky dorey when they calculate inflation. ESO, try just calculating it in the supermarkets…nowhere else, as a project to prove all us bitchers wrong.

    • Brian says:

      I have tracked all of my expenses since 2018 on a monthly basis. Every penny is accounted for through transaction downloads on Butterfield. I can guarantee you everything has gone up. This report is a load of 🐎 💩

  10. Anonymous says:

    Your $ is worth less.

    Buy Bitcoin to protect your purchasing power

  11. Anonymous says:

    my neighbour complained of his light bill being $400 this month…he smokes three packs of cigs a day…at ten bucks a pack…a case of beer every week at fourty bucks. a case….lol

    • Anonymous says:

      So you are saying that as long as people have expendable income, it is okay for the cost of living to go through the roof? Remember that the next time you go out for supper, have a haircut or buy someone a present

      • Anonymous says:

        Why would you pay for a haircut?

        Cut your own hair like the rest of us sods.

        Why would you go to supper?

        Cook your own flipping meal.

        And don’t give presents, give of your free time!

    • Anonymous says:


  12. Anonymous says:

    No sorry, I simply do not believe these figures from the ESO.

    Let alone them pressing me for my business metrics, which I am loathe to give them, but that’s another story.

    • Elvis says:

      Most expensive place in the world and im asking why?

      Yes its the Caribbean but other islands are no where near this pricing for goods etc. greed , simples

      i do actually hardly shop much now and make things last wherever i can

  13. Anonymous says:

    Oh well, at least there won’t have to be cost of living increases paid out to anyone in either the public or private sector since everything is just fine and dandy and things are going in the right direction and people are going to have a little extra cash in their pockets.

  14. Beaumont Zodecloun says:

    Item: “The ESO said that this was due mainly to the drop in the average cost of electricity, which fell by 8.5%; water supply costs, which fell by 6.4%; imputed rentals for owner-occupiers, which fell by 4.6%; and actual rentals paid by tenants, which fell by 4.2%. Comparing the first quarter of 2021 and the fourth quarter of 2020, the CPI fell by 1.7%, as the average cost of housing and utilities declined by 5.7%, education dropped by 1.3%, and household equipment fell by 0.8%.”

    Exactly where were all these reductions manifested?

    Oh, wait, I think I briefly felt the 0.8% reduction in household equipment. I think I mentioned that to my wife that the new CoffeeMate was $1.37 cheaper than anticipated. 🙁

  15. Anonymous says:

    I found an old receipt the other day and checked current grocery prices with old ones from just over 2 years ago. The increases were staggering. I used to pay $2.99 perlb for my chicken pieces, now today they are $4.49. That’s a 50% increase in 2 years. And in the last 2 years my rent has increased by 55% after I had to leave my old place when it was sold, and couldn’t find anywhere near those prices for a comparable new place. I’m also finding medical insurance premiums have soared, and the difference between the cost of medical services and what the insurance will pay for is ever widening, leaving me with bigger medical bills all the time. When we came here 14 years ago, we could manage and even ate out sometimes or went to the cinema etc. Now we are barely keeping it together. If we had to move on from our current place, I don’t see a single place we could actually afford to live in now. We consider ourselves fairly fortunate so how some people manage, I just don’t know.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Obligations including Govt obligations tied to inflation.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Statistics can be interpreted to say anything you want. Check with the average Joe and all will agree C.I. is still the most expensive place in the WORLD to live and it’s getting worse!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Soon Caymainas won’t be able to buy groceries on our own island… Is there nothing the government can do to reduce this? I can guarantee once most places put their prices up (restaurants, supermarkets, etc) they will never come back down…

    • Anonymous says:

      Being forced to grow tiny gardens and plant fruit trees whereever we can.

      I’m terrible with plants but trying my best as can’t afford much these days.

  19. Anonymous says:

    This report just doesn’t add up, with shipping costs nearly doubling worldwide and local insurances costs up about 10% on average how can you responsibly state inflation is down? It is projected to skyrocket as these costs get passed along to tenants, consumers and employees. Clearly the cost of fuel has been felt by anyone with a CUC bill this month. If you speak to anyone who imports containers the cost of shipping has jumped drastically and it can not help but be passed on to the consumer. Wholesale costs are up dramatically as well, and if that isn’t reflected in ESO reports someone is asleep at the wheel. I strongly suggest everyone keeps saving and have cash on hand for the cost increases as they are only starting to be felt here when it comes to essential goods and services.

    • Anonymous says:

      But …you didn’t thank government for keeping port charges the same for the last 10 years.

    • Anonymous says:

      The ESO is incapable of telling you something as simple as how many people are actually on the island. Why would you expect them to handle anything as sophisticated as inflation with any actual relevance to the consumer?

    • Anonymous says:

      it is amazing that people will call foul here and show that they are being lied to by Government, but the minute someone suggests that the powers that be might lie about the vaccines etc. not possible.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Unfortunately for ESO, the average person on the street knows that prices have increased, therefore either they should re-check their figures or lose credibility.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Inflation means a continual increase in cost of a product.

    Transitory inflation means a increase in the cost of a product for a finite amount of time. Transitory inflation means products will be more expensive, but that the rate of the increase in the cost will not continute at that same rate for a long period of time.

    Is there inflation – Yes.
    Will it continue – No.
    Will all goods get cheaper – no.
    Will some goods get cheaper – yes.

    Welcome to what happens when you print trillions of dollars and have massive supply contstraints because of COVID = Lots of demand and no supply.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Ok. All such good news. Anyone living in Cayman knows this is a pile of bull crap…

  23. Anonymous says:

    This is just a made up number. Typical propaganda. Name one commodity that has fallen in price over the last 6 months, weeks even.
    Weed not included.

  24. Anonymous says:

    The prices of almost all consumable goods have gone up steadily, and out-of-pace with market inflation forces and supplier scarcity. In an effort to demonstrate an anti-corruption cultural shift to various task forces looking at us under the magnifying glass, this regime needs to press criminal white-collar charges against those businesses colluding on prices against Caymanian consumers. Grocery and fuel conspiracies seem to be low fruit.

    • Anonymous says:

      We all know the mafias are out there. Due to no competition along with the ridiculous cost of importation (though I can’t say for certain if the lucky few pay the same duties we pay) basic necessities are becoming unreachable.

      As a 31 year old who believed what I was told, I find it hard to see a future in this world. I went to school, got my degree and came back. I worked hard and sacrificed ridiculous hours to show commitment and I have a great work ethic. I moved from technology to finance and I’m working on more qualifications but its so disheartening at this point. More studying in hopes to make more money but with these costs it will all be for naught. I’ll be spending 12 hours a day just living just to work and I’ll be spinning all my tires down to the rim just to remain in place.

      How do I save up for children or a house? I recently purchased a piece of land but even as a caymanian with my first time purchase I had to pay 2% stamp duty. Where is the concession when the brackets for the concession are not inline with reality. Find me a house outside west of Bodden Town that isn’t over 300k?

      Meanwhile I watch government officials in parliament collect 6 figures and give themselves raises while the Cayman economy and lifestyle tumbles further down the hill. They do not experience the same reality as us and will never work for those that put them in that position.

      • Beaumont Zodecloun says:

        People like you are who we should be granting concession to. People from us. People who should matter. I want to fund you and others like you, and I want the dollars the government fritters away on foreign investment to go toward making lives better here, right now.

        My vote no longer matters for anything, since any of the elected leaders can and do recombine in a way that is contrary to their platform for which we voted.

        I think it’s time we had some representation. I want some say in these mega-projects which appear to transform our nature wonderland into a mini-Miami.

        It’s too late for me also. I hope it’s not too late for you to make your way. I can tell by your words that you’re no stranger to hard work. If only that paid off in the way it once did.

      • Anonymous says:

        I honestly feel for the younger generation. But please don’t give up. Find ways to go up. Good luck

    • anon against ignorance says:

      11.42am Exactly how do businesses charge more to Caymanians than to non Caymanians?.

      • Anonymous says:

        … how do some businesses pay non-Caymanians more than Caymanians doing same job.

        • Anonymous says:

          BIG FACTS!!

          Non-Caymanians often get paid more for doing less than Caymanians who get paid less for doing more.

          It is who knows you, not who you know!! The same hypocritical zealots we naively have opened the doors to are the same ones who are now closing the doors on us.

          Everybody knows it is the status quo, and anybody who tries to push the ridiculous propaganda to the contrary is clearly a member of the biggest beneficiary clubs in Cayman, living half-cut on Cloud 9. (Some of whom are our own Caymanian sellouts and status holders)

          I cannot believe we are the ones who made it possible from the start, but now the bouncer is saying WE ARE NOT on the list.

          It is high time to re-establish who is really in control here and put all these miscreants in their place once and for all of the world to see.

        • Anonymous says:

          Well known for years that ‘locals’ have been paid less than those hired from overseas, especially in the law firms.

  25. Anonymous says:

    they are basing everything on 13% drop in fule prices in first quarter??? my info shows fuel increasing by 25% from first quarter 20 to first quarter 21
    something is seriously wrong with these figures.
    look it up online if you dont belive me.

    • Anonymous says:

      ESO are lagging, the oil price is back up to $70/barrel again. And that’s why gas went up and CUC’s fuel surcharge went up just on the news of it going up. Where’s the buffer, bunkering?? Agree with your statements ESO’s figures are half baked.

      • Anonymous says:

        ESO are an unnecessary burden on the community. They cost millions and tell us nothing useful. We could reduce import duties and lower the cost of living by simply doing away with the bunch of them.

        Want to know the price of milk? Ask Fosters

        Property? Ask CIREBA

        Population? Ask CBC

        Salaries? Ask WORC

        The tail is wagging the dog. Please, someone, make it stop!

    • Anonymous says:

      Nearly $5 CI per gallon now for regular gas…

    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed. I was wondering if I was remembering incorrectly because I watched fuel prices climb and climb and climb. I remember being told that fuel prices would go down when the global price of oil tanked, but that didn’t happen and we were fed the rationale that it was FIFO pricing for fuel.

      None of these numbers reflect the actual cost of living in cayman. I’ve watched every item, even the generic food brands increase to the point now where its unsustainable at this rate. Salaries will never catch up to this and sooner or later those who are just making it will be underwater.

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