RETAIL PRICE growth of general goods in the Philippine capital region grew at its fastest pace in February, the highest reading in 14 years, according to preliminary data from the local statistics agency.
Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed the general retail price index (GRPI) in Metro Manila rose to 6.6% last month, up from 6.3% in January and 2.2% a year ago.
This was the fastest rise in retail general goods since the 6.8% in November 2008.
Year to date, GRPI averaged 6.4%, compared to 2% last year.
Ruben Carlo O. Asuncion, chief economist at Union Bank of the Philippines, Inc., said the latest GRPI data correlates with [February] inflation.
“It should be carefully noted that the NCR (National Capital Region) price growth in retail prices is very much correlated to headline CPI (consumer price index), especially it has moved in the first two months of 2023,” he said in an e-mail.
Food prices, he added, have remained elevated and non-food CPI has continued to rise as well.
February headline inflation slowed to 8.6% from 8.7% in January, after six months of acceleration based on the latest CPI data of the PSA.
The statistics agency attributed the higher GRPI increase to the heavily weighted food index, where price growth increased 11.1% from 10.5% in January.
Another main driver, according to the PSA, is the price growth in machinery and transport equipment, which increased 1.6% from 1.2% the previous month, while price growth in manufactured goods classified primarily by materials grew 4.1% in February from 3.7% in January.
At the same time, price growth accelerated in four commodity groups, led by crude materials, inedible except fuels (7% in February from 5.9% in January), beverages and tobacco (6.4% from 6%), chemicals, including animal and vegetable oils and fats (4.1% from 3.6%), and miscellaneous manufactured articles (2.2% from 1.7%).
A slowdown was seen in the price growth of mineral fuels, lubricants, and related materials, which stood at 7.9% in February from 11.8% a month earlier.
Mr. Asuncion said that he expects price growth for general goods to be in parallel with headline inflation.
“In our recent regression forecasts, we expect no rapid disinflation and our average CPI for 2023 stands at 7.1%. Thus, we expect retail prices of general goods in the coming months to closely trace CPI’s movement.” — Abigail Marie P. Yraola