According to preliminary estimates, in March 2020 the Italian consumer price index for the whole nation (NIC) increased by +0.1% both on monthly basis and with respect to March 2019 (from +0.3% in the previous month).
The slowdown of the growth on annual basis of all items index was mainly due to the trend reversal of prices of non-regulated energy products (from +1.2% to -2.7%) and to the deceleration of those of services (from +1.0% to +0.6%); these dynamics were partially offset by the speed-up of prices of food including alcohol (from +0.4% to +1.2%) and of tobacco (from +1.5% to +2.5%).
Core inflation (excluding energy and unprocessed food) and inflation excluding energy were +0.7%, both the same as in the previous month.
The growth on monthly basis was mainly due to the increase of prices of tobacco (+2.3%) and, to a lesser extent, of food including alcohol (+0.4%), partially offset by the decrease of prices of non-regulated energy products (-2.2%).
Prices of grocery and unprocessed food increased by 0.5% on monthly basis and by 1.2% on annual basis (up from +0.3% in the previous month).
In March 2020, the Italian harmonized index of consumer prices (HICP) increased by 2.2% on monthly basis, mainly for the conclusion of winter sales of clothing and footwear, which are not taken into account in the national index NIC. The HICP increased by +0.1% with respect to March 2019 (from +0.2% in the previous month).
March preliminary estimates of NIC and HICP have been compiled in the context of the spread in Italy of the Covid-19 crisis and the consequent interruption of many retail trade activities supplying goods and services. The structure of Italian consumer price survey, based on the use of multiple sources to collect data, has allowed to contain the effects of the higher amount of missing observations. On pages 11-12 the methodological note describes the context and the choices adopted to deal with the issues emerged.