Households are feeling the effects of inflation. / Marcos Álvarez

Families feel the pinch as inflation makes food and energy more expensive

In the past year, prices have risen by 11% in Malaga province, which was slightly less than in July but above the national average

The summer holidays are over, the children are back at school, the weekly shop seems to cost more each time, although there is less to show for it, and energy bills are so high that people have got used to checking the cheapest times of day to use domestic appliances.

That is where we are today, and the latest figures from the National Institute of Statistics regarding the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in August are a stark reminder. Inflation in Malaga province stood at 11.1% last month.

Anyone who likes to think of a glass being half full, not half empty, can console themselves that this is three-tenths of a decimal point down on the July figure. However, those who see a glass which is half empty (like our wallets) realise that inflation in Malaga is six-tenths of a point higher than the national average and that the prices of basic foods in this province are not only more expensive than the rest of Spain, but the rise has been more dramatic this year.

To be specific, the price of foods in Malaga province has gone up by 15.8% in the past year, compared with 14.1% in Spain as a whole. If we start counting from January this year, there has been a rise of 12%, which is one and a half points more than the national average.

At least non-alcoholic drinks have not gone up in price as much in Malaga as they have nationally (8.8% compared with 9.3%), but anyone who feels like drowning their sorrows with something alcoholic will be depressed to hear that those drinks have gone up by 7.9% in the past year, two-tenths of a point more than in the rest of the country.

Apart from the weekly shop, energy bills are also contributing to the big hole which has steadily appeared in household economies. The figures are startling, every time. The price of electricity, gas and other fuels in Malaga has risen by 53.4% in the past year. The national average is even higher, at 54.3%. The war in Ukraine, the increased cost of raw materials and worldwide economic instability are still the main causes of the increase. However, the CPI data does relate to last month and the European Central Bank has raised its interest rates twice since then to contain inflation, although it remains to be seen how effective that will be.

The property sector

What is clear from the data is the importance of housing in understanding inflation in Malaga, because the rise in prices of anything related to the property sector is usually double the national average.

Rental prices are one example: they have gone up by 2.6% in the past year in Malaga and 2.4% so far in 2022, whereas nationally the increases have been 1.5% and 1.3% respectively.

The costs of furniture and other household items have also risen by 16.6% in the past year in Malaga province and by 11.5% since January, compared with 9.7% and 6% in Spain.

The CPI figures for August do not reflect the effect of inflation on tourism at the height of the season in one of the most popular holiday destinations in Spain, but, again, the province is in line with the national picture, with prices of package holidays having risen by 20.4% in a year and by 23.9% so far in 2022.

In parallel, restaurant prices in the province have also increased by 9.4% in the past year, compared with the national average of 6.3%.

It appears that no matter where you look, the budgets of thousands of households in Malaga province are being seriously affected by this cost of living crisis.

Milk, eggs and vegetable oil: over 20% more expensive in one year

Inflation nationally in August was slightly lower at 10.5%, although it did not reduce quite as much as had been hoped (the target was 10.4%), and this is largely attributed to a noticeable drop in fuel prices.

However, the core inflation rate last month, which does not take into account non-processed foods or energy products, was three-tenths of a percentage point higher than in July, at 6.4%, the highest level since January 1993.

Although any fall in the Consumer Price Index is good news, families will barely notice the difference because their purchasing power has shrunk so much in the past year. There is particular concern about the fact that so many basic shopping items are so much more expensive now: for example, essentials such as milk, vegetable oil and eggs now cost 20% more than they did 12 months ago.