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No end to price hikes

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Concerns rise as consumers grapple with high cost of living

The consumers’ association is deeply concerned over the rise in the cost of living, as a deceleration of inflation seems to be coming to a halt amid fears of a new hike cycle boosted by conflicts in the region.

In comments to the Financial Mirror, the head of the Cyprus Consumers Union and Quality of Life, Loucas Aristodemou, said that, “although the general inflation and food price indices are on the decline, households and consumers continue to perceive that prices remain elevated”.

The recent announcement of inflation data by the Statistical Service and Eurostat indicates that the harmonised index was at 2% in January. The consumer price index, according to Cystat’s measurement, rose to 1.7% from 1.6% in December 2023 and 7.1% in January 2022.

In January, the food index stood at 3%, a decrease from 3.6% in December, as per Eurostat’s methodology. According to the statistical service’s calculations, it is at 2.6%, down from 10.3% in January 2022.

Aristodemou pointed out that many products and services still exhibit significant increases in their current prices compared to the past two years, while government measures have done little to ease the blow to consumers’ wallets.

“Furthermore, there is a prevailing concern that a new cycle of price hikes might ensue in a substantial portion of the market due to geopolitical developments and the actions of Houthi rebels in the Red Sea, posing a threat to shipping and supply chains,” he recalled.

Initial increases have already been observed in Cyprus for products imported through the new, more time-consuming, and costly transportation process around Africa, as opposed to the Suez Canal, cuasxing a delay of at least a week.

Continuing, Aristodemou argued that the island has one of the highest cost of living rates in the European Union, despite the actual numbers being lower.

A recent compilation of data from the Numbeo platform revealed that living in Cyprus is one of the costliest in the bloc, coming close to that of countries like Germany and France.

“Just looking at the numbers, one might say that Cypriot consumers are better off than citizens in Germany and France. However, we must not forget that salaries are significantly higher in these countries.

According to the data, the estimated monthly cost for a four-member family in Cyprus is €2,947, excluding rent, while for an individual, it is estimated at €839.5 without rent.

Greece 4% lower

In Greece, the estimated monthly cost for a four-member family is €2,766 without rent, and for an individual, it is €807.4 without rent. On average, the cost of living in Greece is 3.9% lower than in Cyprus.

In Portugal, the estimated monthly cost for a four-member family is €2,321.3 without rent, and for an individual, it is €657.4 without rent. The cost of living in Portugal is, on average, 17.8% lower than in Cyprus.

In Germany, the estimated monthly cost for a four-member family is €3,210.3 without rent, and for an individual, it is €951.3 without rent. The cost of living in Germany is, on average, 11.5% higher than in Cyprus.

For a four-member family in France, the estimated monthly cost is €3,414.2 without rent, and for an individual, it is €954.6 without rent. The cost of living in France is, on average, 18.2% higher than in Cyprus.

“This set of data does not give us the full picture, as it does not include rent, which is sky-rocketing in Cyprus, as well as electricity costs. Our electricity bills are inflated because we pay hundreds of millions of euros in fines for CO2 emissions,” pointed out Aristotelous.

He continued that Cypriots rely on their own car for every transportations, as the country lucks a reliable public transport system.

“This means a Cypriot family needs to pay several times more than a family in Germany for their daily trips to work and school”.

“While we are on the subject of schools, the majority of Cypriot students need to attend a number of private lessons and tutoring, to catch up on subjects already covered in public schools,” said Aristotelous.

“You do not have this in Germany,” he stressed.

Hefty price for milk

Based on Numbeo’s price analysis for a standard basket including 14 essential food items, Cypriot consumers need to allocate a minimum monthly amount per person (for 31 days) of €265.07.

This compares to €263.41 for Greeks, €368.14 for the French, €319.62 for Italians, €318.21 for Germans, €248.55 for Spaniards, €234.41 for Lithuanians, €247.41 for Slovaks, €256.17 for Slovenians, €299.56 for Belgians, and €234.30 for Portuguese.

Detailed prices from Numbeo for Cyprus include: milk (normal 1 liter) €1.59, fresh white bread (500g) €1.88, rice (white, 1kg) €2.33, eggs (regular, 12) €3.38, local cheese (1kg) €11.35, chicken fillets (1kg) €7.98, beef (1kg) €11.54, apples (1kg) €2.50, bananas (1kg) €1.78, oranges (1kg) €1.72, tomatoes (1kg) €2.59, potatoes (1kg) €1.31, onions (1kg) €1.16, lettuce €0.72, water (1.5 liters) €0.87, medium-range wine bottle €7, domestic beer (0.5 liters) €1.56, imported beer (0.33 liters) €2.30.

In Greece, the prices include: milk (normal 1 liter) €1.53, fresh white bread (500g) €1.23, rice (white, 1kg) €2.22, eggs (regular, 12) €3.99, local cheese (1kg) €12.44, chicken fillets (1kg) €9.40, beef (1kg) €12.34, apples (1kg) €1.78, bananas (1kg) €1.78, oranges (1kg) €1.30, tomatoes (1kg) €1.92, potatoes (1kg) €1.12, onions (1kg) €1.16, lettuce €0.92, water (1.5 liters) €0.76, medium-range wine bottle €8, domestic beer (0.5 liters) €1.61, imported beer (0.33 liters) €2.33.

For France, the prices are: milk (normal 1 liter) €1.11, fresh white bread (500g) €1.81, rice (white, 1kg) €2.12, eggs (regular, 12) €3.73, local cheese (1kg) €16.50, chicken fillets (1kg) €12.69, beef (1kg) €19.03, apples (1kg) €2.74, bananas (1kg) €2.01, oranges (1kg) €2.99, tomatoes (1kg) €3.49, potatoes (1kg) €2.05, onions (1kg) €2.06, lettuce €1.36, water (1.5 liters) €0.71, medium-range wine bottle €7, domestic beer (0.5 liters) €2.16, imported beer (0.33 liters) €2.66.

In Italy, the prices are: milk (normal 1 liter) €1.46, fresh white bread (500g) €2.02, rice (white, 1kg) €2.61, eggs (regular, 12) €3.45, local cheese (1kg) €13.07, chicken fillets (1kg) €10.60, beef (1kg) €17.13, apples (1kg) €2, bananas (1kg) €1.88, oranges (1kg) €2.28, tomatoes (1kg) €2.83, potatoes (1kg) €1.55, onions (1kg) €1.45, lettuce €1.32, water (1.5 liters) €0.44, medium-range wine bottle €6, domestic beer (0.5 liters) €1.49, imported beer (0.33 liters) €2.06.

For Germany, the prices are: milk (normal 1 liter) €1.08, fresh white bread (500g) €1.90, rice (white, 1kg) €2.71, eggs (regular, 12) €3.29, local cheese (1kg) €12.16, chicken fillets (1kg) €15.40, beef (1kg) €14.79, apples (1kg) €2.36, bananas (1kg) €1.32, oranges (1kg) €2.07, tomatoes (1kg) €1.71, potatoes (1kg) €1.53, onions (1kg) €1.81, lettuce €1.75, water (1.5 liters) €0.69, medium-range wine bottle €4.99, domestic beer (0.5 liters) €0.92, imported beer (0.33 liters) €1.60.

In Spain, the prices are: milk (normal 1 liter) €1.04, fresh white bread (500g) €1.27, rice (white, 1kg) €1.30, eggs (regular, 12) €2.39, local cheese (1kg) €11.94, chicken fillets (1kg) €6.