By Abigail Marie P. Yraola, Researcher
RETAIL PRICE growth of general goods in Metro Manila eased in March, the slowest in three months, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said on Friday.
According to preliminary data from the statistics agency ,the general retail price index (GRPI) in the National Capital Region (NCR) slowed to 6% last month, from the 14-year high of 6.6% in February and 2.7% a year ago.
March marked the slowest reading since December last year, hitting the same annual gain of 6%.
For the first quarter, the GRPI averaged 6.3%.
Domini S. Velasquez, chief economist at China Banking Corp., said the slowdown in the March GRPI is due to the contraction in fuel prices from last year.
“Dubai oil has gone down markedly from the height of the Ukraine war to March 2023. We might see further slowdown in chemicals and manufactured goods in the next few months as demand wanes,” she said in an e-mail.
In the last few months, she added, the uptick in food prices has likely been curbed by increased importation.
Last year, when Russia invaded Ukraine, global oil and commodity prices became unstable, pushing prices of oil above $100 per barrel amid supply concerns.
Meanwhile, soaring food prices have fueled accelerating inflation, which hit 8.7% in January but eased to 7.6% in March from 8.6% the prior month.
The PSA attributed the easing of GRPI in the country’s capital region to the year-on-year decline in mineral fuels, lubricants, and related materials index where price growth contracted to 2.9% from 7.9% in February.
Likewise, contributing to the slower growth in March is the price growth in manufactured goods classified primarily by materials which eased to 3.6% from 4.1% the prior month.
Slowdowns were also observed in the commodity groups of crude materials, inedible except fuels (6.5% in March from 7% in February), chemicals, including animal and vegetable oils and fats (3.7% from 4.1%), and miscellaneous manufactured articles (2% from 2.2%).
Meanwhile, beverages and tobacco logged higher annual gains, posting 7% in March from 6.4% the previous month.
Price growth in food and machinery and transport equipment, which stood at 11.1% and 1.6%, respectively, remains unchanged in March.
Ms. Velasquez said that slower economic growth will likely temper retail prices in the next few months.
“Seasonally, we might see an uptick towards the end of the year as the holiday approaches,” she added.