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Singapore Inflation Rate In 2021: Here’s How Much Prices Of Everyday Goods And Services Have Increased

Transport prices increased 8.8% in 2021

When your $2 chicken rice has become an urban myth and the price of your $2.50 plate jumped to $3, you know that inflation is here on our little red dot. While our grandparents (or even our parents) often gripe about how expensive things have become in Singapore, their complaints holds a ring of truth this year.

Singapore’s headline inflation or Consumer Price Index (CPI)-All Items Inflation increased to 2.3% in 2021, up from -0.2% in 2020 while MAS Core Inflation rate increased to 0.9% in 2021, up from -0.2% in 2020. The difference between the two is that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) – All Items in Singapore includes all categories, while the MAS Core Inflation Measure excludes two main expense categories: “Accommodation”, which is a subset of Housing & Utilities, and “Private Road Transport”, which is a subset of Transport.

Instead of generalising how expensive things are, let’s find out exactly what everyday goods and services have become more expensive by delving into the detailed Consumer Price Index for 2021, published by Singapore Department of Statistics.

Read Also: Singapore Inflation Rate In 2020: Here’s How Much Prices Of Everyday Goods And Services Have Increased

The Consumer Price Index Is A Reflection Of Everyday Prices

The Consumer Price Index is a weighted measurement that measures the average price changes of a fixed basket of goods and services commonly purchased by resident household over time. Singapore’s CPI data has information all the way back to 1960s, though the category information is not as fine-grained as today. As household consumption patterns changes over time, the CPI needs to be updated to reflect the changes in the weightage and the types of goods and services. This rebasing is most recently carried out in 2019.

Source: SingStat

While the category order remained the same (housing & utilities, food and transport remain the top 3), the weightages for the categories did change. The weights for food, housing & utilities and clothing & footwear declined, those for transport, communication, education, health care and household durables increased correspondingly.

For 2021, the inflation was not a uniform increase of 2.3%. Clothing & Footwear, Communications and Miscellaneous Goods & Services became cheaper, while the other categories became more expensive.

Source: SingStat

#1 Housing & Utilities (Increased 1.4% From 2020)

Housing is the largest expenditure group for most households and forms 24.8% of the weightage in the CPI. While the housing market has seen record breaking prices for both HDB resale flats and private property in 2021, the cost of accommodation has thankfully not seen the same breakneck increase. Accommodation showed a slight increase of 1.4% in 2021 while utilities increased by 1%.

This is likely due to high homeownership amongst Singaporeans. For most households who are not changing residences or buying a new home, the increase in housing prices would not directly affect the cost of our residences. In fact, those repaying mortgages may actually find it less expensive to make repayments if they refinanced their loans as interest rates remained low in 2021.

  Percentage change from 2020 (%)
        Housing & Utilities 1.4
            Accommodation 1.4
            Utilities & Other Fuels 1.0


Read Also: HDB Price Guide: Most Expensive HDB Estates In 2021

#2 Food (Increased 1.4% From 2020)

Food is the second largest expenditure group (21.1%) for most households. If you thought that food has become more expensive in 2021, you were right. The cost of food (both food and food serving services) has increased 1.4% overall.

This increase in food prices is not just present locally in Singapore but also is global. World food prices increased 28% in 2021 according to United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). This was attributed to harvest setbacks, strong demand and increased cost of crop inputs.

In Singapore, the cost of food (excluding food serving services) has increased by 1.6%. All food categories showed an increase ranging from vegetables showing the highest increase of 5.2%, followed by fruits at 2.7% increase, to meat at 0.3% increase.

Percentage change from 2020 (%)
Food Excl Food Serving Services 1.6
            Bread & Cereals 0.6
            Meat 0.3
            Fish & Seafood 0.5
            Milk, Cheese & Eggs 1.5
            Oils & Fats 1.2
            Fruits 2.7
            Vegetables 5.2
            Sugar, Preserves & Confectionery 0.6
            Non-alcoholic Beverages 1.6
            Other Food 1.5


Food serving services (i.e. restaurant food, fast food, hawker food and catered food) increased by 1.4%. Of these services, fast food showed the greatest increase at 1.6%, followed by hawker food at 1.5%.

  Percentage change from 2020 (%)
Food Serving Services 1.4
            Restaurant Food 1.1
            Fast Food 1.6
            Hawker Food 1.5
            Catered Food 0.7


In a way, these increases reflect the changes in Singaporeans’ dining habits throughout the various phases of safe management. Fast food services were able to quickly adapt to food delivery as well as the various requirements of safe management measures. Outdoor hawker centres benefitted from the less stringent measures during certain phases of safe management. While the cost of food has increased, food service businesses without sufficient demand would find it hard to pass down the increased costs to their customers.

Read Also: 4 Things That Are Likely To Be More Expensive Because Of Inflation In 2022

#3 Transport (8.8% Increase From 2020)

Transport is the third largest expenditure group at 17.1%. This is the category that increased the most in 2021 at 8.8%. Most of this was driven by the increase in private transport at 11.4%.

  Percentage change from 2020 (%)
Transport 8.8
            Private Transport 11.4
            Public Transport 1.8
            Other Transport Services 4.0


For many drivers, this increase comes as no surprise with the increase in petrol duty rates implemented immediately during the Singapore Budget 2021 speech. Not only has the cost of driving increased due to the hike in petrol duty, the cost of petrol has also risen due to rising oil prices. Additionally, car and motorcycle ownership has also become more expensive due to high COE prices across both vehicle categories in 2021.

While public transport users were largely unaffected in 2021, the fare hikes for bus and trains that took place from 26 December 2021 would likely increase the price for public transport in 2022.

Read Also: Petrol Duty Increase & Road Tax Rebate: How Much More Will You Be Paying To Drive A Car In Singapore?

#4 Recreation and Culture (1% Increase From 2020)

Recreation and Culture is one of the categories that increased in weightage in the 2019 rebasing of CPI.

Of the subcategories, Audio-visual Equipment & Others increased the most at 2.6% though this was offset by 3.2% decrease in Information Processing Equipment. Cinema Tickets showed the second highest increase at 2.5%.

  Percentage change from 2020 (%)
        Recreation & Culture 1.0
            Recreational & Cultural Goods (including Information Processing Equipment and Audio-visual Equipment & Others -0.3
            Recreational & Cultural Services (including Cinema Tickets) 1.2
            Newspapers, Books & Stationery 0.3
            Holiday Expenses (including Hotels) 1.4*

* These services were either fully or partially unavailable in selected months due to international and safe-distancing measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. When the services resume and prices become available, the information is incorporated in the compilation of CPI.

#5 Education (1.3% Increase From 2020)

Education increased 1.3% with bulk of it driven by the increase for Tuition & Other Fees (1.3%).

Primary and secondary school fees are highly subsidised or almost free for Singaporean children.  Most of this cost is driven by the cost of tertiary education as polytechnics and universities increase their fees annually.

#6 Healthcare (1.1% Increase From 2020)

Healthcare increased 1.1% from 2020. Interestingly, fees at GP clinics actually showed a decline from 2020 while Dental Services increased 2.3%. Health insurance increased the most at 4.9%

  Percentage change from 2020 (%)
        Health Care 1.1
            Medicines & Health Products 0.0
            Outpatient Services 0.3
                Fees At Polyclinics -0.5
                Fees At General Practitioners (GP) Clinics -5.5
                Fees At Specialist Outpatient Clinics 0.5
                Dental Services 2.3
                Paramedical Services 0.9
            Hospital Services 1.5
            Health Insurance 4.9


Amidst a pandemic, it is heartening to know that healthcare cost did not increase significantly. However, as our healthcare system is put under increasing pressure both by the pandemic and our aging population, this is a category that will likely see future inflation.

Read Also: MediShield Life Review 2020: 4 Reasons Why Your Premiums Are Increasing By More Than 35%

#7 Household Durables & Services (1.5% increase From 2020)

Household Durables and services increased 1.5%. Household durables include furniture, furnishing and household appliances.

  Percentage change from 2020 (%)
        Household Durables & Services 1.5
            Household Durables (Including Furniture, Furnishings, Household Appliances) 1.6
            Household Services & Supplies 1.4


As more people continued working from home in 2021, they would have likely increased their spending on household items to increase their home comfort or to refresh their space to accommodate their WFH needs.

#8 Miscellaneous Goods & Services (Decreased 0.5% From 2020)

This category includes personal care, alcoholic drinks and cigarettes, personal effects and social services. In general, all subcategories except for personal effects showed a decline from 2020.

  Percentage change from 2020 (%)
        Miscellaneous Goods & Services -0.5
            Personal Care -1.5
            Alcoholic Drinks & Tobacco -0.1
            Personal Effects 1.6
            Social Services -1.8
            Other Miscellaneous Services 0.0


#9 Communication (Decreased 0.6% From 2020)

Communication is another area that showed a decrease with Postage & Courier Services declining the most at -9.3%.

  Percentage change from 2020 (%)
        Communication -0.6
            Postage & Courier Services -9.3
            Telecommunication Equipment -3.8
            Telecommunication Services -0.3


#10 Clothing & Footwear (Decreased 5.5% From 2020)

Finally, Clothing & Footwear showed the steepest decline from 2020 at -5.5%. This was contributed largely by clothing and footwear at -5.6% and -6.0% respectively.

  Percentage change from 2020 (%)
        Clothing & Footwear -5.5
            Clothing -5.6
            Other Articles & Related Services -2.6
            Footwear -6.0


How Much Inflation Affects You Depends On The Areas You Spend On

While the CPI tracks the overall inflation, it is based on a fixed basket of goods and services. These goods and services are then determined by the CPI weightages. This may not be a true reflection of your household expenditure. For example, a family with no children or little healthcare needs may not be spending much on Education or Healthcare. Likewise, a household that does not have a family vehicle and only take public transport would not be affected by the steep inflation of Private Transport.

Regardless, it does appear that inflation is showing signs of a larger than usual increase in Singapore for 2022. The top 3 area of expenditure for Singapore households (housing, food and transport) shows all signs of increasing inflation in 2022. In fact, we had previously highlighted 4 Things That Are Likely To Be More Expensive Because Of Inflation In 2022.

Meanwhile, the few categories that showed lowered prices are in areas of expenditure that hold the lowest weightage for Singapore households, meaning that their decreased prices would likely have a lesser impact on our daily expenses.

Cover photo by Moo Kar Ming, DollarsAndSense

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