THE RETAIL prices of general goods in Metro Manila grew at its fastest pace in over two years in May, according to data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) on Tuesday.
The general retail price index (GRPI) rose at an annual rate of 2.1% in May, accelerating from the 2% print in April and 0.6% a year earlier.
This was the index’s quickest rise since logging a 2.7% year-on-year growth in April 2019.
Year to date, retail price growth in the National Capital Region (NCR) averaged 1.8% compared with 1.1% in last year’s comparable five months.
The PSA attributed the uptick in May mainly to the higher double-digit annual growth in mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials at 20.3%, from 20.2% in April 2021. These commodities account for around 4.2% of the retail basket in NCR.
Meanwhile, the indices of machinery and transport equipment and miscellaneous manufactured articles both posted a 0.4% growth in May, slightly up from 0.3% in April. These items make up 24.1% and 8.8% of the retail basket, respectively.
Bucking the trend was the slowing price growth of crude materials, inedible except fuels (1.7% from 1.9% in April) and chemicals, including animal and vegetable oils and fats (0.8% from 0.9%).
Compared with the previous month, growth in retail prices remained unchanged for the heavily weighted food index at 1.9%. Other commodities that saw steady growth rates were beverages and tobacco (6.4%) and manufactured goods classified chiefly by materials (1.0%).
“The substantial pickup in global crude oil prices appears to be clearly feeding through to retail prices, which was one of the main reasons for inflation for the month… The rest of the indices also saw modest acceleration in inflation as economic activity has picked up from the lows of last year,” ING Bank N.V. Manila Senior Economist Nicholas Antonio T. Mapa said in an e-mail.
Oil prices plummeted last year amid the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic that limited much of global economic activity during the period.
Dubai crude, a benchmark for oil transported to Asia, averaged $66.30 per barrel in May, more than double its rate a year ago. Having plunged to as low as $15-20 per barrel in April last year, Dubai crude prices have since rebounded to pre-pandemic levels at around $70-per-barrel in June.
At home, inflation so far averaged 4.4% at the national level this year following the six-month low of 4.1% in June. In Metro Manila, inflation averaged 3.8% year to date.
Despite the slowing inflation, economists noted the elevated global oil prices and the peso’s depreciation would likely contribute to inflationary pressures in the coming months.
“We can expect [the trend in the GRPI] to continue in June as energy prices stay elevated and issues on food supply remain,” Mr. Mapa said. — Lourdes O. Pilar