Current Affairs

Add to basket (of goods)

Sure, the ONS 'basket of goods' was designed to measure inflation, but it's also a bellweather for the kind of neat stuff people want in their lives right now. Here are our suggestions for what to buy for each new entry on this year's list

When the Office of National Statistic’s (ONS) annual basket of goods launched in 1947, mangles, corsets and three-piece suits featured heavily. Over the years they disappeared, giving way to superbly time-specific innovations like cassette players, chicken nuggets and the ‘Party Seven’ beer can, which held no less than seven pints of beer (it was the Seventies). If you want a snapshot of the state of British life through what we’re coveting, then the basket is a great place to start.

This year, the ONS has declared that envelopes, hi-fis and three-piece suites are no longer worthy of its basket. Instead, it’s added in 16 new products that they feel sum up what it’s like to live in 2019. From smart speakers to sofas, dinner plates to laundry detergent, here’s our pick of the products that everyone’s adding to their basket right now. Here’s hoping the three-piece suit makes a comeback on the list next year.

1. Fabric sofas

If you haven’t yet invested in a velvet sofa, now is your moment. This Scott style from Made is minimalist in design, but its emerald green velvet will add a shot of jewel-bright colour to any sitting room. Note the quilted seat cushion – a delicious nod to mid-century style. 

£949, made.com

2. Hats

Whether it’s a baseball cap or a bucket hat, head furniture is big news this spring. While snapbacks are generally best left for teenagers, this cashmere and leather hat from Brunello Cucinelli is a suitably grown-up take on the trend.

£420, mrporter.com

3. Snacking popcorn

Low fat and low calorie, popcorn has become as ubiquitous as crisps in the snack aisle in recent years. While boutique popcorn brands are 10-a-penny, we much prefer to make our own. Take your Netflix night ins – and your kitchen counter – to the next level with this retro-inspired popcorn maker, in shiny steel with a pop of cherry red.

£99.99, harrods.com

4. & 5. Smart and bluetooth speakers

Hey Siri, how popular has voice-activated technology become? According to a YouGuv survey, ownership doubled over six months in 2018. This Bang & Olufsen Beosound 1 has been updated with the addition of Google Assistant, meaning your playlists, news and weather are available in a heartbeat. It’s also wireless and bluetooth, ticking off another addition to the basket – portable speakers.

£1,250, bang-olufsen.com

6. Herbal teas

Tea no longer means milk and two sugars. Herbal and fruit blends of tea have exploded in popularity in recent years, fuelled by the burgeoning trend for ‘wellness’. Hand-blended in the UK, Niche Tea offers brews with targeted health benefits, including ‘Skin’, with white tea, hibiscus and dandelion, and ‘Sleep’ with rooibos, camomile and lemon balm. The eye-catching, ethically sourced packaging, inspired by art and fashion, is also a far cry from Tetley.

£10 for 15 tea bags, thenicheco.com

7. Children’s books

Walliams and Baddiel might be cleaning up in the children’s book charts, but we’ve got a slightly better suggestion. Start them early on their style journey, and buy them Take Ivy, a book of candid photos taken of Ivy League students in the 1960s. Now considered a classic tome in the menswear world, it’s the perfect introduction to prep.

£14.18, amazon.co.uk

8. Baking accoutrements

The popularity of baking remains undiminished, with baking paraphernalia like trays and tins added to the basket this year. If you’re yet to tell the difference between a Danish pastry and a Bath bun, then get yourself down to Bread Ahead in Borough Market for one of their expert courses, which range from classic British baking to Scandinavian and New York workshops.

From £90, breadahead.com

9. Dinner plates

Single dinner plates replaces crockery sets in the ONS’s basket for the first time, indicating a move towards more eclectic homeware collections. Made by Ana Kerin, founder of ceramic studio Kana, each of these Klein blue plates she produces are utterly unique, due to the hands-on nature of her technique.

£72, alexeagle.co.uk

10. Laundry liquid

This delicately scented liquid soap for L’Eaudry is about a luxurious as doing the laundry gets. Topped with the earthy scents of moss, soil and stone, and layered with herbs, hay, cedar, iris and mimosa, the resulting effect is as cool and crisp as a Nordic breeze. It’s especially good for bed sheets.

€68 for 1 litre, leaundry.com

11. Peanut butter

PB aficionados will know that only palm oil-free blends will do, with the best spreads made from peanuts and peanuts alone. This jar is from South Wales artisanal producers The Nut Butter Company, who hand make each batch of this crunchy blend with only the finest nuts and a dash of Cornish sea salt.

£4.25 for 165g, thenutbuttercompany.co.uk

12. Dog treats

Take a walk around your local park and it’s obvious just how popular dog ownership has become. And pedigree mutts require more than bog-standard snacks, meaning bespoke dog treats are a booming business. Clydach Farm’s Salmon Nibbles are made from fresh fish from sustainable sources and potato, and are guaranteed hypoallergenic and grain free.

£4.99 for 150g, clydachfarmgroup.co.uk

13. Electric toothbrushes

With the global market expected to be worth $3.9 billion by 2024, it’s no wonder electric toothbrushes made the basket this year. Recent innovations have made these devices more efficient than ever. This Foreo Issa toothbrush features a choice of eight speeds, PBT polymer bristles that tackles heavy plaque, and an antibacterial silicone casing. The toothbrush also channels up to 11,000 high-intensity pulsations per minute that effectively and gently clean teeth and gums.

£149, mrporter.com

14. Wheel alignment

A standard procedure in fast fit centres, it’s essential you get your car’s wheel alignment checked out annually. If you can’t easily make it down to the garage, then download the Click Mechanic app. All you do is enter your car’s location and number plate, pick a date and time, and its experienced team of mechanics will come out to you.

clickmechanic.com

15. & 16. Cola and diet cola

Despite the introduction of the ‘Sugar Tax’, cola’s addition to the basket shows that the soft drink’s popularity has not diminished. The rise of low and no-alcohol alternatives also mean that boutique soft drinks companies are popping up to challenged the ubiquity of Coca-Cola. Take Dalston’s: a London born and bred company, its sodas are created using real fruit and natural ingredients, using plastic-free packaging.

£1.09 for 330ml, dalstons.com