Panama’s Consumer prices rose 1.5% in February 

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By LatAm Reports Editorial Team

Consumer prices continued to rise in February. In the transport group, the largest increases were in fuel and lubricants, insurance and some education services, among others, also increased.

Transport increases, the costs of school supplies and tuition increases, the electricity bill goes higher, insurance policies increased, more gasoline is paid and some foods like dairy products cost more than last year.

Every month the Panamanian feels the pressure of increasing prices of various products and services. Although the country does not have a rate of increase in inflation as high as others in the region, in the day to day consumers perceive increases that are undermining their purchasing power and the option is to reduce spending, says Annie Muñoz, Leader of Categories Administration in Latin America, the United States and Canada of NielsenIQ.

The February Consumer Price Index recorded an annual variation of 1.5%, according to the monthly report of the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC) of the Comptroller General of the Republic.

The increase between February 2023 and February 2024 was driven by the increase in consumer prices of various goods and services groups by 4.2%, including beauty salons, centers for personal care, beauty products such as cosmetics and personal hygiene, shavings, toothbrush, jewelry, watches, health insurance, housing and cars.

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In the insurance line, the average increases were 16.2% with the highest incidence in car insurance that increased by 21.7% in February compared to the same month last year.

Health insurance also rose in one year 11.3% and financial services costs increased by an average of 6.9%.

The cost of transport also increased 3.7 per cent, mainly due to the increase in the prices of fuels and lubricants for personal transport equipment that rose 10.6% year-on-year. In particular, fuel increased 11.3%. A year ago, fuel subsidies were available for both 95-octane gasoline and 91 octane gasoline, both were eliminated.

The cost of airfare increased 8.7% compared to February 2023 due to the rise in international aviation fuel prices.

Car rental rates with 3.9% rises in February compared to the same month in 2023 and school transport increased 4% in anticipation of high demand for the service at the start of the school year in March.

In the group of restaurants and hotels that recorded increases in consumer prices of 2.7% year-on-year, the biggest increase was in the cost of food.

For the prices of housing, water, electricity and gas services that rose on average 2.4%, the biggest increase in housing repair costs that increased in February 7.3%, while electricity rates grew on average 4.1% compared to last year.

Consumer prices rose 1.5% in February due to rises in transport, fuel, restaurants and food

In January, the new tariff sheet was authorized, so the electricity bill registers a variation in February. Augustine Herrera

In the non-alcoholic food and beverage group, the year-on-year increase at the end of February was 1.2%, with steepest increases in cereals that rose 12.% and increases of 11.5% in the cost of eggs. Milk rose 5.4%, ice cream 5.2% and cheeses 3.4%.

In the education group, the biggest variation was in the monthly consumer price index (CPI), i.e. from January to February, it increased 1.3% due to the seasonal increase in some pre-school education services that rose 2.5%, in secondary education 2.3% increase and in pre-medie than 2% education.

The February CPI compared to January of this year according to INEC increased 0.3% and in the case of the districts of Panama and San Miguelito the year-on-year variation was 2%.

Consumer prices rose 1.5% in February due to rises in transport, fuel, restaurants and food

Consumers are looking for deals and buy other brands to save on price hikes. Augustine Herrera.

What do consumers do in the face of rising prices?

Consumers have adopted a series of strategies to manage their spending on consumer goods in the face of rising prices, says Annie Muñoz, leader of Categor Administration in Latin America, the United States and Canada of NielsenIQ.

It requires that people apply at least 4 different strategies to save and deliver on their budget.

One of the findings, Muñoz says, is that more than 87% of consumers have changed the way they buy mass consumer goods to manage expenses between them lists the following:

1. They trademarks for lower prices.

2. They take advantage of promotions to buy more merchandise and have an inventory of the preferred brand.

3. They buy any brand that is in promotion.

4. They carry a check on the cost of all purchases they make month by month.

5. They look for own or private brands of shops and not necessarily traditional ones.

6. They buy more at lower-priced stores.

7. They collect points and benefits in business loyalty programs to save and then exchange them for products.

8. They focus on the essentials and stop buying other products.

9. They replace some products with a lower price alternative.

10. They shop online to take advantage of some offers. 

This article has been translated from the original which first appeared in Prensa