Inflation soars but what items have risen the most (and least) this year?

Laura Suter
17 November 2021
  • Biggest price rise of the year? MDF at 63%
  • Formal workwear has shot up, but casual clothes are cheaper
  • Air fares, car hire and EuroTunnel all rise in price, but coach travel has fallen
  • Fruit shoots have seen the biggest increase in the food shop, but mashed potato has got cheaper
  • Buying a TV and board games for Christmas? Expect to pay much more

Laura Suter, head of personal finance at AJ Bell, comments:

“Inflation has soared to a 10-year high and everyone is feeling the pinch, whether it’s in their weekly shop, their energy bills or when they’re heading out to buy a new car. But not everything has risen in price and some areas of our lives are getting pricier than others.

“The single biggest price rise of the year will dismay DIY fans or anyone working on a home renovation: MDF (or Medium-density fibreboard). The man-made wood has got 63% more expensive since the start of the year, as supply chain issues and a surge of people doing up their homes has put it in strong demand. And the biggest faller of the year? Computer games, which are a third cheaper than the start of the year, following a boom in demand during the pandemic that has died away now.”

Travel and transport:

Car hire has soared in price, rising by 30% this year, shortly followed by air fares which have risen by 28% as more people hopped on a plane to get some sun. And anyone thinking of going on a jaunt to France will be shocked that EuroTunnel prices have risen 21% this year.

But if you’re willing to travel in the UK you’ll find costs haven’t risen that much, with coach fares actually falling by 24% and rail fares only rising by 3%, meaning a UK holiday could be much more affordable than setting your sights abroad.

Everyone knows that second-hand cars have been among the biggest risers this year, increasing by by almost 25% since January. But electric or hybrid cars haven’t seen the same increases, staying the same price across the year, meaning now could be a good time to go green. Adding literal fuel to this argument is that petrol prices have risen by more than 18% this year, while diesel prices have risen 17%.


Now is not the time to be buying formal clothing and workwear, as it’s shot up in price after everyone realised they needed to upgrade their work wardrobes for the return to the office. If you’re pondering a new coat for Christmas you’ll need to dig deeper as a men’s coat has risen in price by more than a third, while a woman’s coat has risen by a more modest 15%.

But those still working from home and who didn’t max out on comfy clothing in the pandemic will find their clothes shopping is less pricey, as men’s jogging bottoms are 5% cheaper than at the start of the year, while women’s exercise leggings are 2% cheaper.

The food shop:

The biggest price rise of all food items is fruit drink bottles, so things like Fruit Shoots, which are a staple in many parents’ weekly shop. A pack of them has risen 32% this year. The other biggest risers are a pack of yogurts, which is up 19%, and low-fat spread, which has risen 18%. It’s going to cost more to make a spag bol now, as tinned tomatoes have risen in price by 17%. As it’s not summer people might not be too disappointed that Magnums and other ‘chocolate-covered ice creams’ have risen by 13% in the year.

And the food item that’s fallen the most in price? Prepared mashed potato, which is down 13% on the year, followed by self-raising flour, which was hugely in demand during the pandemic, but people have now ditched their home-baking causing it to be more than 10% cheaper than the start of the year.

As for booze, wine drinkers have found the cost of their tipple increase, with new world red wine and European white wine up by 5% on the year, while a glass of plonk in the pub is up 4%. Beer drinkers haven’t been spared, with a pint of draught bitter or lager both up by 4%. But if you’re willing to ditch the pub for a beer at home, you’ll find a pack of lager has actually dropped in price by around 2%.

Christmas presents:

Anyone wanting to buy the bookworm in their life some new material will find costs have shot up, with ebooks costing 23% more than last Christmas and hard-cover books rising by more than 20%. Even children’s books have shot up in price, up by 12%.

If you’re thinking of getting a new TV to watch the Christmas specials you’ll find they cost around 10% more than the start of the year, while the family Christmas board game is around 5% more expensive. But jigsaw fans can rejoice as they are 15% cheaper – once the hot ticket item to have in lockdown it appears their favour has waned a little. The same is true for smart speakers, which are 14% cheaper than the start of the year.

And sports fans will have found their weekly golf trip has got pricier, with golf balls getting 3% more expensive while green fees have shot up 19% in the year. But football players have fared better, with football boots staying the same price and the cost of an actual football rising by around 3%. But those wanting to get the new kit for Christmas will find prices have shot up, with official shirts being 19% more expensive than the start of the year.


Biggest price rises this year


Price change since January



Kerosene - 1000L Delivered


Mens 3/4 To Full Length Coat


Fruit Drink Bottle 4-8 Pack


Self-Drive Car Hire Basic 24Hr




CDs- Purchased Over Internet


Air Fares




Recordable CD Price Per CD


Hotel 1 Night Price


Boys Jeans (5-13 Years)


3-Year-Old Second-Hand Car


2-Year-Old Second-Hand Car


Charcoal BBQ Not Disposable


Women's Skirt: Work/Formal




Women's Formal Jacket




Source: ONS/AJ Bell


Biggest price falls this year


Price change since January

Computer Games


Coach Fares


Surveyors Fees Mortgage Valuation


Computer Game Downloads


Money Transfers


Women’s Short Sleeve Sports Top


Internet Blu-Ray Disc


Action Camera


Jigsaw Minimum 100 Pieces


Smart Speaker


Men's Branded Sport Sweatshirt


Prepared Mashed Potato 400-650G




Internet Computer Games


Womens Sportswear Shorts


Cooked Ham Loose Per 100G


Dishwasher Tablets Pack 16-45


Melon Each Eg Honeydew


Raspberries Punnet or Per Kg


Craft Kit for Child 5 Yrs+


Source: ONS/AJ Bell

Laura Suter
Head of Personal Finance

Laura Suter is head of personal finance at AJ Bell. She is a multi-award winning former financial journalist, having specialised in investments. Laura joined AJ Bell from the Daily Telegraph, where she was investment editor. She has previously worked for adviser publications Money Marketing and Money Management, and has worked for an investment publication in New York. She has a degree in Journalism Studies from University of Sheffield.

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