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Vinyl records will be an inflation metric in the U.K., thanks to Taylor Swift

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Vinyl is cool again. Or rather, it’s now an important measure of the British economy’s health.

The disk-like records, also known as LPs, have recently become hot commodities as more people seek them out for their rustic charm and arguably better sound quality. That trend hasn’t gone unnoticed by the U.K.’s official statistics body, the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which on Monday said that vinyl will become one of the 700-plus items used as a proxy for inflation.

It’s been 32 years since vinyls were last given this sort of importance. In 1992, the ONS decided to drop them as a metric just as the demand for CDs was rising. Now, vinyl is back “reflecting a resurgence in popularity,” the ONS said.

“Often the basket reflects the adoption of new technology, but the return of vinyl records shows how cultural revivals can affect our spending,” the ONS’s deputy director of prices Matt Corder said in a statement. “Our inflation basket of goods offers a fascinating snapshot of consumer spending through the years.”

The vinyl renaissance  

The vinyl renaissance in the U.K. resulted in record-high sales last year for the first time since 1990. Through 2023, despite high inflation, LPs were in high demand with a total of 6.1 million units sold, up 11.8%—the fastest growth rate this decade, according to BPI, the U.K. association representing label and record companies.       

The biggest driver for this fast pace of growth? Taylor Swift. Surprise, surprise.

There was never doubt that Swift could be an economic force. The newly-minted billionaire pop star released her “1989: Taylor’s Version” album as a record, which propped up vinyl sales in 2023, BPI data revealed. Swift’s album was the most LPs for that reason (she also grabbed the fourth and eighth best-selling LPs on BPI’s list).

Taylor Swift released vinyls of her “1989: Taylor’s Version” album.

Peter Nicholls—Getty Images

“It’s good to see the ONS once again including vinyl LPs in its measure of what people are buying around the UK,” BPI’s CEO Jo Twist said in a statement on X. “This much-loved format has seen demand grow consistently for nearly two decades, including among younger and more diverse consumers who stream daily but also love to own their favourite music on physical formats.”

Air fryers, rice cakes and more

Vinyl was among the 15 new items added to the basket of goods which will help determine the Consumer Price Index (CPI), an inflation indicator. Other items on the list include air fryers, rice cakes, and edible sunflower seeds. 

A representative at the ONS told Fortune that the demand for air fryers was being driven by health and energy-saving benefits as people increased their spending on cooking equipment by 30% between 2021 and 2022.

Similarly, sunflower seeds and rice cakes have become a big part of people’s pivot to healthier diets, making them among the new additions to U.K.’s inflation-measuring basket.

The items bumped out of the list, such as hand sanitizers, reflect the reset back to normal from the pandemic times. Other items like draught stout and bakeware were removed because they’re part of a category that’s overrepresented in the CPI basket. 

Inflation in the U.K. currently stands at 4%, down significantly from the 41-year high of 11.1% in October 2022 but still double the 2% target.

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