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E-cigs, Spotify, and craft beer added to key UK economic tracker

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Mireya Acierto/Getty Images

Every year, the UK's Office for National Statistics (ONS) compiles a "basket of goods" that's used to measure the country's rate of inflation. Although this virtual shopping trip (officially known as the Consumer Price Index or CPI) has a serious use, it also provides an informal insight into UK consumers' changing tastes. This year, for example, e-cigarettes, Spotify, and craft beer were among the new additions, while sat-nav units were dropped "because many drivers now navigate using smart phones."

"With the decrease in the popularity of traditional media, music streaming services — such as Spotify — are being included for the first time, as are online console computer games subscriptions," said the ONS in a press release. "In addition, headphones ... are being added to the basket of goods. Alongside this, mobile phone accessories — such as chargers and covers — are also being added."

In the 1940s, the basket included hats, gramophone records, and iron bedsteads

The addition of headphones and mobile phone accessories in 2015 shows that the ONS is often late to trends. TV streaming services like Netflix only made the cut last year, while "recordable CDs" and "rewritable DVDs" are still on the list in 2015. However, in the long run the ONS' choices definitely reflect changing tastes over the decades. In the 1940s, for example, the shopping basket included gramophone records, iron bedsteads, and both men's and women's hats. The thought of buying e-cigs and Spotify subscriptions will probably sound just as quaint in another 70 years' time.