It is reported that the government plans to study ecommerce transactions on marketplaces, to include in its Consumer Price Index (CPI). This signifies the growing influence of ecommerce on consumer spending as CPI’s are utilised by the Reserve Bank of India to structure policy rates. Apart from tracking price fluctuations in ecommerce, the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation also plans to make an assessment of the discounts given by online marketplaces.
Adding to the basket
“Online shopping is not in our CPI basket now and since price movements may be different for a few items as compared to the regular shopping, we may include some of them as we find there is a scope for improving the basket. We are not getting price data for this set of the universe due to the way this data is collected at present. It is a refinement, not a drastic change,” stated an official.
The government has only carried out initial talks regarding the topic, as it is currently between two base revisions for CPI. In 2015, the CPI base year was changed from 2010 to 2012, by the Central Statistics office.
“If a change in the index has to be done, it will be done only when the base is revised. We are only exploring this because even though this shopping is done online, it is paid for by the consumer only,” remarked another official.
The data for CPI is meticulously collected by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO). India Post is also used in some villages.