Singapore's Core Inflation Drops to 5.1% in October: How Will This Affect You in 2023?

Emma Lam

Emma Lam

Last updated 14 December, 2022

Singapore’s year-on-year core inflation rate sees first drop in eight months, having risen from 3.3% to 5.3% between April to September but eased to 5.1% in October.

After officially reaching mid-2022, core inflation has since hit multiple all-time highs in a decade since 2012. As a compounded consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian-Ukraine War, economies are under immense stress as governments attempt to cope with soaring prices.

In Singapore’s case, core inflation has been trending upwards to all-time high rates for six months: 3.3% in April, 3.6% in May, 4.4% in June, 4.8% in July, 5.1% in August, and 5.3% in September on a year-on-year basis.

💡 Fun fact: The only other time Singapore reported a higher year-on-year growth was in November 2008 when core inflation hit 5.5%.

Currently, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) expects overall inflation to hover around 6% and core inflation to hover around 4% for the remainder of the year.

[UPDATE]
Core inflation has since dropped to 5.1% in October, the first dip since February 2022. 

Similarly, the headline consumer price index, or overall inflation, has also witnessed a drop to 6.7% in October, down from the previous 7.5% in September. 

But we can't let our guard down just yet; amid all this economic pandemonium, how are current inflation trends affecting you?

Table of contents

Disclaimer: Information is updated as of 23 November 2022.



Core inflation vs. Overall inflation

Core Inflation Vs Overall Inflation

Source: MAS, MTI

Before delving further, let’s distinguish between core and overall inflation.

Typically in most countries, core inflation is an index that excludes the prices of volatile goods and items like food and energy. 

However, in MAS’ definition, core inflation in Singapore pertains to retail, food and energy (electricity and gas) costs. Only accommodation and private transport costs are excluded due to their volatility and influence from supply-side administrative policies.

On the other hand, overall inflation in Singapore is measured by the headline consumer price index (CPI). This measures the cost of a fixed basket of goods and services used by resident households daily.

The composition and categorical weightage of goods and services in this index is determined once every five years through average household consumption patterns.

Considering these differences, the 5.1% year-on-year core inflation has undoubtedly led to significant impacts on Singapore’s cost of living.

💡 Pro-tip: For 2023, MAS predicts overall inflation to remain unchanged between 5.5 and 6.5%, while core inflation maintains between 3.5% to 4.5%. These readings account for the impending +1% GST hike from 7% to 8%.


Related to this topic:
Can Cashback Credit Cards Help Curb Inflation in Singapore?
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9 Ways to Hedge Against Inflation With Investing

Make your money work harder for you by opening a Citi Plus Account — a wealth management platform that goes beyond just a regular savings account.


Effects of rising inflation across sectors

  October 2022 September 2022
Services 3.9% (-0.1%) 4%
Food 7.1% (+0.2%) 6.9%
Electricity and gas 19% (-4.9%) 23.9%
Retail and other goods 2.6% (-0.5%) 3.1%
Private road transport 17.3% (-5%) 22.3%
Accommodation 4.9% (~) 4.9%
Source: MAS, MTI

Although there was slight 0.2% inflation increase in the food sector, the rest of the economy saw significant drops in inflation rates.

So what’s the inflation breakdown across these sectors and how does it affect us? 

Food

The change: Since April, food inflation has been trending upwards. Starting from 4.1% in April, to 4.5% in May, 5.4% in June, 6.1% in July, 6.4% in August, 6.9% in September, and now 7.1% in October 2022. It's risen a whole 3% throughout the year.

This was caused by an exponential increase in the prices of non-cooked and food services.

How this affects you: Unfortunately, you might have to revise your grocery and necessity shopping budget again. According to MTI, the average price of a carton of 10 eggs rose from S$2.40 to S$2.60 between December 2021 to 2022 — an 8% increase.

Coincidentally, CNA also conducted a price comparison of essential goods between 2021 and 2022. In February, they found that a pack of 30 Pasar fresh eggs rose from S$4.75 to $6.15 at NTUC Fairprice. Similarly, a 30-egg carton from Sheng Siong also increased from S$4.65 to S$6.15.

The ongoing Russian-Ukraine War has also negatively affected food prices since both countries contribute to the global supply of commodities like wheat (around one-quarter worldwide), barley, corn, livestock feed (e.g. grain) and sunflower seed oil.

What you can do: Download the Price Kaki app to compare prices of groceries, household items and hawker prices islandwide. 

Source: Price Kaki

Through this app, you can filter and sort listings by price, distance, supermarket, and more. It’s arguably the fastest way to get price updates for all your essential goods shopping.

💡 Pro-tip: Look out for NTUC Fairprice’s 5% ‘Stretch Your Dollar’ discount on 100 key essential items every Friday. Valid till 31 December 2022.

Save up to 20% on “Must Buy” items and an extra 25% on “Purchase with Purchase” products (min. S$25 spend).

Simultaneously, maximise your grocery haul during your next trip by using a grocery credit card at checkout. Some cards like Citi Cash Back Card reward you with 8% cashback on groceries whereas others like BOC Sheng Siong Card specifically give you 6% cashback at all Sheng Siong outlets.


Related to this topic:
Supermarket Promos And Discounts For Senior Citizens in Singapore (2022)
14 Cheaper Things to Buy in JB Besides Food, Groceries and Petrol
Latest NTUC Fairprice Promo Codes in Singapore (May 2022)



Retail

The change: Retail and other miscellaneous goods inflation was on the rise from 1.6% in April to 3.1% in September. But now, it's since dropped to 2.6% in October 2022.

This dip is attributed to telecommunication equipment, medicines, and health products all declining. The cost of personal effects has simultaneously fallen too.

How this affects you: Ultra-fast fashion platforms like Shein have been one of the main culprits of overconsumption. From January to April alone, 315,000 new styles have been added to Shein’s online catalogue. Within the same timeframe, H&M and ZARA only added 4,414 new styles to their US websites.

As demand for fast fashion exponentially rises, so will supply – and thereafter, inflicting greater stress on the environment and factory workers’ rights. If supply can’t keep up with demand amid all these pressing concerns, naturally, the prices of your garments will increase.

What you can do: According to a 2021 survey conducted by FleishmanHillard, 60% of Gen Zs have been great ambassadors for slower and more sustainable fashion. For example, thrift stores like Loop Garms, Function Five, STAKEOUT, and others are shopping havens for affordable yet trendy pre-loved clothes. 

💡 Pro-tip: Also, instead of shopping directly on popular blog shops (e.g. Lovet, Super Gurl, Young, Hungry & Free), join their secondhand Telegram channels where shoppers sell off their past items at a fraction of original prices.

In the long run, purchasing pre-owned clothes proves to be cheaper, longer-lasting and thus, more value-for-money.

Where applicable, use a cashback credit card to score some decent rebates during your shopping spree. Make thrift shopping sustainable for both your wardrobe and wallet!



Electricity and gas

The change: With regards to electricity and gas, they've seen one of the worst increases in the lot. Its inflation number has risen from 19.7% in April, 19.9% in May, 20% in June, 24% in July, with a slight decline to 23.9% in August and September.

Electricity and gas inflation saw the biggest drop to 19% in October 2022. This was due to smaller hikes to the cost of electricity and gas prices.

How this affects you: Tariffs are calculated in three components: network costs, market support services fee, and market administration and power system operation fee.

For the most part, sharp price upturns in European gas futures, Russian oil embargoes and self-sanctions by major oil enterprises are to blame for the staggering figures of electricity tariffs.

The average decrease of electricity tariffs will be 1.4% or 0.42 Singapore cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) between 1 October - 31 December 2022.

SP Group
Source: SP Group

Despite the slight dip, households will still bear the brunt of these tariffs, which now stand at 29.74 cents per kWh (before GST).

It is thus predicted that the average monthly electricity bill for the regular 4-room HDB household to decrease by a slight S$1.55 (before GST) or S$1.65 (after GST).


The rise in household electricity and gas bills can be terrifying at first, but there are measures to counter these tariffs. By using the right credit card, it can help shave off some costs.

The UOB One card offers cardholders 5% cashback on all spend (including recurring telco and electricity bills) plus an extra 1% on SP bills. Thus, you'll receive a maximum of 6% cashback on your pesky electricity bills! Rebates are issued out quarterly, with the maximum rebate requiring min. S$2,000 monthly spend.

Meanwhile, the OCBC 365 card is another popular choice, offering 3% cashback (capped at S$80) on recurring telco and electricity bills with a min. S$800 monthly spend.




Related to this topic:
Open Electricity Market (OEM) Singapore: Complete 2022 Guide
Cheapest Electricity Retailers in Singapore 2022
8 Ways to Lower Your Electricity Bill in Singapore


Make your money work harder for you by opening a Citi Plus Account — a wealth management platform that goes beyond just a regular savings account.


Private transport and services

The change: Between March and April this year, private transport inflation fell from 21.5 to 18.3% – a welcome relief for many. It only rose slightly to 18.5% in May after the Certificate of Entitlement (COE) premiums hiked up in February.

But currently, we've seen the biggest drop in inflation in the private transport sector. It jumped to 21.9% in June, 22.2% in July, 24.1% in August before moderating to 22.3% in September due to slower increases in car and petrol prices.

Following that, private transport inflation has dropped by 5% to 17.3% in October 2022.

Similarly, services inflation has eased a little too. Starting from 2.6% in May, 3.4% in June, 3.5% in July, 3.8% in August, 4% in September, and now 3.9% in October 2022 .

Experts cite relaxation of travel borders, greater holiday expenditure and more engagement with point-to-point transport services as the reasons for this increase.

How this affects you: Private car ownership and maintenance in Singapore have inevitably risen. Petrol prices have hit yet another high despite crude oil prices being 15% cheaper now.

1-litre of diesel = S$2.78 to S$2.87
1-litre of 92-octane petrol = S$2.73 to S$2.78
1-litre of 95-octane petrol = S$2.77 to S$2.83
1-litre of 98-grade petrol = S$3.25 to S$3.32 

Prior to savings and discounts, SPC and Sinopec generally offer the cheapest fuel rates.

What you can do: Download the Fuel Kaki app to compare the best prices of petrol and diesel before refueling your vehicle.

Source: Fuel Kaki

At the same time, motorists are highly encouraged to sign up for a petrol credit card to save on fuel expenses depending on preference.

  92-Octane Petrol 95-Octane Petrol 98-Octane Petrol
Best petrol kiosk to look for Caltex Sinopec, Caltex Sinopec, Esso
Best Credit Card


OCBC Voyage


SCB Unlimited Cashback Card

OCBC cards OCBC cards

 


DBS Esso Card

With everyone deep set on revenge travelling and being predisposed to spend more overseas, costs incurred from travel comprise a significant portion of our income now.

If we're not careful or discrete with our spending habits, we can easily overspend and spell disaster for ourselves --- especially with talks of a recession ahead.

It's time to be frugal even while jet-setting across the globe, so save on those expensive air tickets with some mileage credit cards.

  Miles earned (Local) Miles earned (Overseas) Benefits
Citi PremierMiles
S$1 = 1.2 miles S$1 = 2 miles Citi miles never expire. Can be exchanged for flyer miles, cash rebates, and other travel rewards.
2 free airport lounge visits annually (over 1,300 Priority Pass lounges to choose from)
Up to S$1 million travel insurance
UOB Prvi Miles
UOB PRVI Miles Mastercard
S$1 = 1.4 miles S$1 = 2.4 miles 6 miles per S$1 spent on major hotel and airline bookings on Expedia, UOB Travel, Agoda
Up to S$500,000 travel insurance


Headline inflation has eased too

Headline inflation has eased from 7.5% in September to 6.7% in October 2022.

 

Frictions in global transportation, supply chains, energy and food commodity prices have lowered compared to earlier in the year.

Employment-wise, MAS and MTI warn that Singapore’s labour market expects labour costs and wage growth to increase in tandem. The cost of utilities may also remain elevated for a while. 

That said, firms are continually encouraged to "[pass on] accumulated import, labour, and other business costs to consumer prices amid resilient demand".

Meanwhile, housing and car ownership cost hikes aren't going to decrease anytime soon given the tight COE quotas and strong housing demand recently.

See also: Loan-to-Value (LTV) Ratio & Limits in Singapore

Critiques and suggestions for other potential fiscal measures

Maybank's regional co-head of macro research Chua Hak Bin and Economist Song Seng Wun agree that inflation "is showing signs of peaking or may have already peaked" and that "the worst of inflation pressures are behind us". 

The main concern now is how much inflation will ease from this point on.

They also recommend implementing a supplementary budget to assist lower-income individuals with basic necessities and utility costs.

To further that, Maybank also suggests stricter foreign labour policies, delaying the introduction of the local qualifying salary benchmark and expanding the progressive wage model to Singapore’s retail sector.

Source: CNA

With this easing in inflation, hopefully external inflationary pressures continue to recede steadily and moderate through the year end.


 

Related to this topic:
A Recession Is On Its Way — Here’s How You Can Protect Your Investments
Money Confessions: My Wallet Is Not Looking Forward To Post-COVID-19 Life (Especially Going Back To Office)
5 Tips To Better Plan Your Budget in a Post-COVID World

Anything we can do to personally curb inflation?

Bottom line is, storing money idly in a low-interest bank account won’t help much. Moreover, with passive income being all the rage now, many Singaporeans are getting nifty with their saving and investment habits for a healthier financial future.

Here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Deposit your funds into a high-interest savings account.
  2. Lock money away in a (participating) short-term endowment plan to reap higher rates of return in the longer run.
  3. Cash management accounts are great saving/investing hybrids to transform savings into passive income.
  4. Start an investment portfolio with robo-advisors.

Essentially, a currency’s buying power usually depreciates during inflation. Thus, the worth of idle money will only plunge if the rates of return earned aren’t sufficient to compensate for a currency’s diminishing value.

Earlier in June, Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong also announced a S$1.5 billion Support Package to aid the lower-income and more vulnerable strata of society in coping with the daunting challenges of inflation.

Read more: Robo Advisors Singapore: A Complete 2022 Guide


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9 Ways to Hedge Against Inflation with Investing

 

With a minor problem of ‘itchy fingers’ when it comes to checking out at flash deals and sales, Emma is on a lifelong journey to understand what being financially independent in adulthood means. That said, her inner child is still very much alive… with animals and gaming (especially Pokémon) being her weak spot.