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Index of retail prices in Queensland regional centres, 2015 – Frequently asked questions

What is the ‘Index of retail prices’?

The Index of retail prices was collected in August 2015 and compares the prices of a basket of household goods and services between the Brisbane region and selected Queensland regional centres.

This is a spatial index which compares prices over geographical areas at a point in time. The Brisbane region has been given an index of 100, and all other centres have an index relative to the Brisbane region. For example, the Longreach index of 107.1 for alcohol and tobacco means that prices for these goods were 7.1 per cent higher than in the Brisbane region.

What is the Index of retail prices used for?

The Index numbers produced are used by government agencies, private organisations, and the general public for budgeting and resource allocation purposes, such as the calculation of area allowances.

What is a ‘basket of goods and services’?

The basket of goods and services is a list of commonly purchased household goods and services. This basket is based on the basket used by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) for the Household Expenditure Survey and the Consumer Price Index (CPI). There were approximately 500 items included in the basket for the 2015 collection, comprising the following groups:

  • Alcohol and tobacco
  • Clothing and footwear
  • Communication
  • Education
  • Food and non-alcoholic beverages
  • Furnishings, household equipment and services
  • Health
  • Housing
  • Insurance and financial services
  • Recreation and culture
  • Transportation.

How are prices collected?

The majority of prices were recorded by our collectors when they visited each centre in August 2015. Some prices were obtained from administrative data and others were collected directly from our Brisbane office.

Why do you use rental data for the housing index, and why don’t you include building insurance?

A ‘cost of use’ approach was taken for housing, using rental data from the Queensland Residential Tenancies Authority. It is assumed that variations in housing costs, such as purchase price, home insurance and rates, are reflected in rental prices. Items such as electricity and contents insurance are included as they are generally paid by renters as well as owner occupiers.

How is electricity expenditure included in the Index?

Information published by the Queensland Competition Authority was used to calculate electricity prices. An average daily cost was applied to all centres, based on the fixed network costs and an annual electricity usage of 4,100kWh. Households which reside within the Energex network are generally afforded competitive retail discounting and so, to reflect this, electricity expenditure for these centres was discounted accordingly.

Why weren’t prices collected everywhere in Queensland?

In 2015, prices were collected in the Brisbane region (Brisbane, Ipswich, Logan, Moreton Bay, and Redland local government areas) and 27 Queensland regional centres – Ayr, Beaudesert, Bowen, Bundaberg, Cairns, Cannonvale, Charleville, Charters Towers, Dalby, Emerald, Gatton, Gladstone, Gold Coast, Gympie, Kingaroy, Longreach, Mackay, Maryborough, Moranbah, Mount Isa, Rockhampton, Roma, Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba, Townsville, Warwick and Weipa.

Unfortunately, we can’t visit every centre in Queensland, and smaller centres in particular cannot be included if the range of goods and services included in the basket are not available.

Are the Index numbers comparable over time?

No. Unlike the CPI, the Index of retail prices is not a time series. It is a spatial index, comparing prices over geographical areas at a point in time. Index numbers cannot be compared over time as they are calculated relative to Brisbane region prices, which will also have changed over time. Items in the basket of goods and services are updated between collections, and centres where prices are collected can also change.


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