Society

Home entertainment in the CPI basket

Entertainment options in the home have come a long way from sing-alongs in the 19th century, and radios, records, and radiograms in the early to mid-20th century.
  • Image, a partially open laptop computer with an e-reader.

    Today we have flat-panel TV sets, home theatre systems, and tablet computers. As entertainment options have changed over the past 60 years, so have the electronic gadgets tracked in the consumers price index (CPI).

    Music at home

    Radio was first included in New Zealand’s CPI basket of goods and services in 1949. At that time, tuning-in was not cheap. The average price of a radio was about £21, or about $1,460 in today’s terms (December 2012 quarter) after allowing for general inflation.

    Radiograms, which combined a radio and record player, were added to the basket in 1965, when they retailed for about £90 (about $3,310 today).

    The 45rpm single record was added in 1955 at an average price of 5 shillings and 6 pence ($13 today). The 331/3 rpm long-playing (LP) record, which stored a whole album of songs, was added in 1965 at an average retail price of £2 ($73 today).

    Music on the move

    In 1980, the radio-cassette player was added to the CPI basket with an average price of $255 (about $1,080 today).

    Then in 2006, MP3 players were added. A 2GB MP3 player had an average price of $380.

    Television becomes an instant hit

    Another common type of entertainment technology in most homes is the television. It too has changed a great deal from when it was introduced to New Zealand households in 1960.

    TV became an instant hit and by 1965 nearly 315,000 TV sets were licensed in New Zealand.

    Added to the CPI in 1965, the average price of a 23-inch black-and-white consolette TV set was about £138 ($5,110 in today’s terms) while the cost of an annual TV licence was £6 and 10 shillings a year ($240 today).

    Colour TV sets were added to the basket in 1975, at an average retail price of about $840 ($7,940 today) for a 26-inch set.

    In 2006, flat-panel TV sets with LCD or plasma displays were added to the CPI basket. A 32-inch LCD-display TV retailed at about $2,750. The same size TV cost about $590 in the December 2012 quarter.

    The viewing experience has also changed over the years. Newer technologies enabled households to record TV programmes and watch them later, or hire movies to watch at home. Video-cassette recorders were added to the CPI basket in 1983. In 1986, their average price was $1,450 ($3,460 in today’s terms).

    With the popularity of digital video formats, DVD players were added to the CPI basket in 2002, and DVD recorders in 2006.

    Home theatre systems were added to the basket in 2006. At the time, the average price of a system with five speakers plus a subwoofer was about $920.

    Computers silence typewriters

    Before computers, we used typewriters for writing letters and reports. Typewriters were first included in the CPI basket in 1977, when the average price was $175 (about $1,030 today).

    Personal computers were added to the CPI in 1988 when the average price of a basic home computer was about $1,290. Five years later the average price for a personal computer had increased to $2,560, but these computers had more features than the home computers of the 1980s.

    The computer printer was added to the CPI basket in 1993, when it cost an average of about $550. Nowadays, computer printers are typically multi-function devices – they include scanning and copying functions and retailed at an average of $165 in the December 2012 quarter.

    Laptop computers were added to the CPI basket in 2006, when the average price was about $1,600.

    More recently, tablet computers and electronic book (e-book) readers have gained popularity. These devices, along with e-books, were added to the CPI basket in 2011.

    Electronic games and console systems, and video-game hire had been were added to the CPI basket in 1999.

    In recent times, leisure activities at home have evolved to include browsing the Internet, exchanging emails, shopping, and playing computer games.

    pdf icon. Electronic gadgets in the consumer price index (PDF, 1 sheet, 692kb)
    Shows a pictorial summary of the gadgets added to the consumers price index (CPI) basket over the past 60 years, and how much each cost at the time and in today's terms.

    For more information on the different gadgets households have used for entertainment in the last 60 years, see Electronic gadgets in the consumers price index.

    Source: Statistics New Zealand

The average price of a radio in 1949 was about $1,460 in today’s currency.
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