This Bulletin presents the latest estimates of the size of the population of St Helena, the number of arrivals and departures (including detailed statistics on arrivals by air), and the number of births and deaths.

The data released in this Bulletin can be downloaded in Excel format from the ‘Population’ file on the St Helena Statistics website at: www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics-data.

Population estimates

At the end of June 2018 the number of St Helenians on St Helena was estimated to be 4,300, almost 7% higher than at the end of June 2017, and very close to the peak number of 4,334 recorded at the end of December 2017. The estimated number of persons on St Helena, residents plus visitors, was 4,663, is a slight decrease compared to the end of March 2018, but a 5.3% annual increase compared to the end of June 2017.

Arrivals and departures

The total number of arrivals for the second quarter of 2018 was estimated to be 1,093 (see Table 1). This is much lower than the 1,852 arrivals in the first quarter, when both the new scheduled air service and the RMS St Helena were operating. However compared to a year ago, when there were 770 arrivals in the second quarter, it is a significant increase of 323 people or more than 40%.

Of the 1,093 arrivals in the second quarter, 77% (841) arrived by air, with the remainder arriving by yachts or ships, usually in transit to other destinations. As expected, as a result of moving into the off-peak season, the number of air arrivals in the second quarter was around 200 less than the first quarter, when 1,038 people arrived by air. The last and first quarters of each year usually see a larger number of visits, since these are the warmer months on St Helena, and St Helenians living overseas tend to visit during this period (see Chart 2).

Since the scheduled air service began, 30% of all persons arriving by air have been tourists – excluding those St Helenians who live abroad returning for a short-term holiday, who were around 16% of all persons. People returning to their home on St Helena were a further 24%, and those arriving on St Helena for business, including persons and their families recruited overseas to work on St Helena, were 25% (Chart 3).

Within the group of passengers who came to St Helena for a short-term holiday visit, 35% were St Helenian, 22% were British, and 21% were South African – comprising together just under 80% of all arrivals. Of the remainder, most were from countries in Europe (Chart 4).

Further details of air arrivals are given in Table 1, and in the ‘Population’ data file at www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics-data.

Even though the number of tourists arriving on St Helena was greater than the number of St Helenians arriving for a holiday to visit family and friends, the total number of nights they stayed on the island was less. This is because, on average, visiting St Helenians tend to stay longer than those visiting for tourism purposes (Chart 5).

Table 2 has more details, including totals by quarter and the average length of stay for St Helenians on holiday visits (30 days per visitor) and for non-St Helenian tourists (10 days per tourist). More data, including figures by month from 2010 onwards, are given in the ‘Population’ data file at www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics-data.

The total number of departures for the second quarter of 2018 was 1,139, substantially less than the first quarter (1,957) but about the same as the fourth quarter of 2017. This reflects the typical observed seasonal pattern, when St Helenians visiting for the Christmas period return in the first quarter of the year. Just over two–thirds of all departures were people returning to their usual place of residence. Some 14% were people who left to take up an overseas employment opportunity or to emigrate, and a further 10% were residents of St Helena departing for a holiday (see Table 3).

Births and deaths

In the second quarter of 2018, there were a total of seven births and 13 deaths registered on St Helena; this is almost the same as the previous quarter, when there were also 13 deaths, but six births.

However the number of births almost halved compared to the same period of 2017, where 13 births were reported. In recent years, the number of deaths has exceeded births – during the last twelve months, there have been 27 births and 57 deaths.

Two statistical updates have been released on July 11, 2018 as follows:

Production, including animal slaughtering, fish catches and sales, and forestry, to the end of 2017.

Weather and climate, including rainfall, sunshine, wind and humidity, to May 2018

Additional statistical series and indicators are available on the Statistics Data page, and published statistical reports, including Statistical Bulletins, can be found on the Statistics Reports and Publications page.

We welcome comments and suggestions on any of the statistics published by the Statistics Office. Please email: statistics@sainthelena.gov.sh, call tel: 22138, or visit the office in person on the second floor of the Castle, Jamestown.

About this Bulletin

This bulletin includes estimates of the latest annual price inflation rates for the second quarter of 2018, calculated from the Retail Price Index (RPI). The data released in this Bulletin, including the RPI itself, can be downloaded from the St Helena Statistics website at: www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics-data.

Average inflation rate

The latest rate of annual price inflation is estimated to be 3.4%, between the second quarter of 2018
and the second quarter of 2017. This is an increase from the previous annual price inflation rate for
the first quarter of 2018, which was 2.8% (Chart 1).

Inflation rates of RPI categories

The category with the lowest annual inflation rate is ‘Household energy’, where prices at the end of quarter 2 2018 were unchanged compared to a year earlier. This is mostly due to unchanged prices for domestic electricity, which makes up over 85% of items in this group. Since the amount of electricity in the RPI is high (6.4%) based on average household expenditure patterns, this also has an impact on the overall inflation rate, offsetting some of the increases in other categories. ‘Communications’ also had a low annual inflation rate, at 0.9%.

Inflation rates for the other categories were all higher than 3%. Of these, ‘Alcohol and Tobacco’ had the highest rate, at 6.0% (see Chart 2). The annual increase in the price of food also increased quite sharply from 2.9% to 4.1%, and since food has a large weight in the RPI (34.4%, or around a third), this is a major factor in the observed rise in annual price inflation.

It should be noted that there were some changes to the composition of the ‘Communication’, ‘Miscellaneous’, and ‘Household goods and services’ categories as a result of the new classification
introduced for the 2017 Household Expenditure Survey (HES). For instance, non-communication services were previously included in the ‘Services’ category, but are now included in the ‘Miscellaneous’ and ‘Household goods and services’ categories. The previous ‘Services’ category is now ‘Communication’, and it now excludes non-communication services. The report on the 2017 HES results has more details of these changes (see page 8 of the report), including full details of the ‘rebasing’ exercise introduced for the RPI from Quarter 1, 2018. These changes mean than annual comparisons between these three categories should be made with care, since there are slight differences in their composition.

Price changes of selected goods and services

Since St Helena imports many goods from South Africa and the United Kingdom, prices paid by consumers are affected by the prices paid by importers for goods overseas, and the cost of importing those goods to St Helena, including freight rates and customs duties. During the first half of 2018 there were several changes which will impact prices of imported goods, including:

  • Changes to the freight tariff caused by the retirement of the RMS St Helena and the introduction of a replacement shipping service, the MV Helena
  • Changes in the exchange rate of the Pound against the Rand; the Pound strengthened slightly against the Rand towards the end of 2017, although it weakened again in the early months of 2018
  • Price inflation in South Africa, which rose from an annual rate of 3.4% in March to 4.4% in May
  • Price inflation in the UK – annual price inflation fell slightly from a November 2017 high of 2.8% to 2.4% in April and May 2018
  • Changes in customs duty rates from May 1, 2018, including increases to taxes on alcohol and tobacco imports and sugary products including certain fruit juices, drinks, chocolate and confectionery, and decreases to some food and drink items, including water and certain fruit and vegetable products (see http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/changes-to-customs-excise-duty
    for full details).

Together, these factors can have varied and sometimes offsetting impacts on the overall inflation rate on St Helena. For example, significant quarter-on-quarter price increases were observed in sugar and syrup (11.8%), fruit juice (10.7%), and chocolate (10.6%), presumably reflecting the increase in duty rates for these products. At the same time, the recorded price of imported potatoes fell by 7.7% compared to the previous quarter, and imported gas cylinders also fell in price, by 4.4%.

There were also changes in the price of locally produced goods and services. The price of fresh beef, for example, rose by 9.5% compared to the previous quarter. Since beef comprises over 1.5% of the RPI shopping basket, this has a significant impact on the ‘Food’ inflation rate. Health service fees were also increased from 1 April (http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/health-and-social-welfare/feescharges-residents), although the impact of these changes on the inflation rate is relatively small since the combined weight of these items in the RPI basket is just over 0.5%. At the time of writing this Bulletin, there are also proposed increases to the price of water (from 1 July) and telephone calls (August), but these are not included in the second quarter inflation rate calculations; their impact will be measured next quarter, when they are implemented.

Even though there are many factors that affect prices, it should also be noted that between each quarter many prices remain unchanged. This quarter, for example, of the 203 categories in the RPI,
prices in 153 categories – around 75% – did not go up or down compared to the previous quarter. In this quarter in particular, this may be one result of delays in shipments from the United Kingdom, since prices on the shelves may be maintained until new stock arrives.

Rebasing the Retail Price Index

The Statistics Office has recently ‘rebased’ the RPI, using the data collected from the Household Expenditure Survey in November 2017. This involved calculating new expenditure patterns to update the shopping basket, for example adding items which are relevant now (e.g. mobile telephones) and deleting any that are no longer purchased. The calculations in this Bulletin use this new basket; further details are available in the report on the 2017 HES which can be found at http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics-reports-and-publications.

Some common questions: what is the Retail Price Index (RPI)?

The RPI is the official measure of the average change in the retail prices of goods and services. It is estimated each quarter, or once every three months. Changes in the RPI measure retail price
inflation, and are usually computed on an annual basis; that is, comparing price changes over a twelve month period. For detailed tables, please visit www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics-data.

What is price inflation?

Inflation simply means that something is growing or increasing, but when used in the context of the economy it usually refers to the change in average prices of goods and services over time. On St
Helena, the primary measure of inflation is the RPI, and it is usually quoted as an annual estimate: it is the amount by which the RPI has grown over the preceding twelve months. A decrease in the RPI is also possible, though unusual – over a twelve month period, a drop in the RPI would result in retail price deflation (i.e. a negative inflation rate).

Why do we measure the RPI?

The rate of change of retail prices is an important indicator of economic performance and is used by Government, businesses and society in general. It enables an understanding of the impact of price changes on households and individuals, including for specific groups of goods and services.

How is the RPI constructed?

The basis for the RPI is the average cost of goods and services purchased by households on St Helena, or a weekly ‘shopping basket’. Items which households purchase more of, such as food,
have a bigger share, or weight, in the RPI basket. The current RPI uses a basket from the latest Household Expenditure Survey in 2017, and baseline prices for that basket were recorded in the first
quarter of 2018 (the full specification of the RPI basket is available in the report on the 2017 HES). Prices are collected every quarter, to calculate the latest price of the RPI basket and to compare that to the price in Q1 2018. By convention, the value of the basket in the baseline period is scaled to 100, and the RPI values are quoted in relation to that baseline – the usual notation is to write ‘Q1 2018 = 100’. An RPI value of 120 means that average prices have increased by 20 per cent compared to those recorded in the base period.

What happens when an item is not available?

If a particular item is not available during a round of price checks, a series of prescribed steps are followed to ensure the RPI measurement is not distorted. An important principle is that price changes should reflect actual price increases, and not changes in the quality of items. If an item is not available then either the previous price will be carried forward from the previous quarter, or a suitable substitute item will be identified and an adjustment calculation made. Great care is taken to ensure that this substitution is similar to the original item, that it represents the item category, and that it does not introduce error to the measurement of the RPI.

Data on the number of people and households receiving social benefits and the Basic Island Pension up to May 2018 have been released on July 3, 2018: Benefits.

Additional statistical series and indicators are available on the Statistics Data page, and published statistical reports, including Statistical Bulletins, can be found on the Statistics Reports and Publications page.

We welcome comments and suggestions on any of the statistics published by the Statistics Office. Please email: statistics@sainthelena.gov.sh, call tel: 22138, or visit the office in person on the second floor of the Castle, Jamestown.

Several statistical updates have been released on June 27, 2018 as follows:

Population, including total population and arrivals and departures, up to May 2018

Ascension Population, up to Quarter 1 2018

Exchange Rates, up to May 2018

Additional statistical series and indicators are available on the Statistics Data page, and published statistical reports, including Statistical Bulletins, can be found on the Statistics Reports and Publications page.

We welcome comments and suggestions on any of the statistics published by the Statistics Office. Please email: statistics@sainthelena.gov.sh, call tel: 22138, or visit the office in person on the second floor of the Castle, Jamestown.

About this Bulletin

This sixth Statistical Bulletin of 2018 releases new estimates of incomes from employment for the 2015/16 and 2016/17 financial years, together with small revisions to estimates for previous years. The statistics presented are derived from records maintained by the Income Tax Office, and are derived using methodology consistent with previously published estimates for 2011/12 to 2014/15. The data released in this Bulletin can be downloaded from the St Helena Statistics website at: www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics-dataA PDF version of this Bulletin is available here.

Average gross employee income

The average annual gross income from full-time employment on St Helena, measured using the median of those receiving income above an analysis cut-off and excluding Technical Cooperation Officers, rose in both the 2015/16 and 2016/17 financial years, to £7,640 and £8,230 respectively. The median is the income level at which half of those above it earn more, and half earn less. So for 2015/16 half of gross employment incomes were less than £7,640, and half were higher, and in 2016/17, half were lower than £8,230 and half were higher.
The median income for 2016/17 was 7.7% higher than 2015/16, and the 2015/16 median was 4.5% higher than the previous year. However, these estimates are not adjusted for the impact of price inflation. When this is taken into account, the estimated ‘real’ annual growth in incomes from employment was 3.4% for 2016/17 and 3.1% for 2015/16.
Note that the median is a common measure when estimating average incomes, since the usual alternative – the mean – is too sensitive to small numbers of large incomes. However, the mean is given in Chart 1 and Table 1 for comparison.

Chart 1 also shows the upper and lower quartiles; the lower quartile is the point at which 25% of incomes are lower, and the upper quartile is the point at which 25% of incomes are higher. 50% of incomes lie between the lower and upper quartiles.

As in previous statistical releases on income, these estimates measure gross (before income tax) incomes of the persons in full-time regular employment on St Helena above an analysis threshold. They exclude company and self-employment incomes, incomes of Technical Cooperation Officers, and investment income. The analysis threshold is set at a level around the single-person rate of the Minimum Income Standard (a measure of poverty) for the previous year. Using this threshold helps eliminate part-time incomes and income derived purely from benefits, and incomes that are under reported. Unless otherwise stated, all estimates of personal incomes in this bulletin use these thresholds (see Table 1 for thresholds used each year). All annual estimates are rounded to the nearest 10.

Distribution of incomes from employment

Chart 2 illustrates the distribution of personal incomes from full-time employment in 2016/17. There is less than £4,000 between the medians of the first five deciles – the half of the population with the lowest incomes, and, in contrast, the medians of the half of the population with the highest incomes have a much broader spread of over £13,000.

Differences in average incomes between men and women

The average annual personal incomes of both men and women in full-time employment increased between 2012/13 and 2016/17. But the median income from employment of men was consistently higher than that of women, and around 15% higher for the years 2013/14 to 2016/17 (Chart 3).

The minimum wage and the income tax threshold

St Helena operates a minimum wage policy, and in July 2015 the rate was increased from £2.30 an hour to £2.60 an hour. This equates to £4,875 for 2015/16 and £5,070 for 2016/17, assuming 37.5 working hours a week and pay for all 52 weeks of the year. St Helena’s income tax system also operates a minimum threshold before any tax is due; this taxable income threshold remained constant at £7,000 per person per year for the financial years 2011/12 to 2016/17. Chart 4 shows the number of persons earning income from full-time employment that were above the minimum wage, and the income tax threshold.

The number of employees above the income tax threshold and above the minimum wage has been increasing each year as average incomes have increased. The number between the minimum wage and the tax threshold has fallen, partly due to the 13% increase in the minimum wage during 2015/16.

Methodology and terms used

Data source – Statistics on incomes on St Helena are derived from a computerised income tax database maintained by the Income Tax Office. This captures information about all income-earners whose details are submitted through the Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) system and through individual and corporate tax returns. There are some limitations when using this database as a source for estimating incomes; for example, informal income earned may not be declared, and it is difficult to distinguish full-time and part-time workers, for example.

Gross income from employment – The primary analysis in this Bulletin uses average gross incomes from full-time employment, which is primarily based on data submitted through the PAYE system. Income from investments and from self-employment is excluded. Incomes are gross, i.e. before any tax is deducted, and all estimates are rounded to the nearest 10.

Median – The median is a measure of the average value of a set of numbers; it is the ‘middle number’ in a ranked list of numbers. It is the value at which exactly half the population has a smaller value and half has a higher value. It is preferred to the mean when estimating average incomes, since the mean is more easily ‘skewed’ by individuals with relatively large incomes.

Mean – The mean is a measure of the average value of a set of numbers; it is derived by adding all the numbers together, and dividing by the number of values in the dataset. While it is the most common measure of the average for many applications, it can produce misleading results for estimating average incomes because it can be biased by small numbers of relatively high incomes.

Analysis threshold – Statistics on average gross incomes use a lower bound threshold to ensure that part-time or under-reported incomes, and incomes derived entirely from social benefits rather than employment, are excluded from the analysis as far as possible. The threshold is set slightly above the Minimum Income Standard level, a measure of poverty.

Technical Cooperation Officers – Technical Cooperation Officers are persons employed by the Government of St Helena following international recruitment. They are employed for a fixed period of time on different pay scales and terms and conditions than those recruited locally on St Helena. As such, their incomes are not considered typical and so are excluded from the main statistics on incomes.

The St Helena Statistics Office has released a report containing the main results from the 2017 Household Expenditure Survey (HES). The survey was conducted between October and November 2017, and was designed to provide an updated ‘shopping basket’ for the Retail Price Index (RPI), which measures price inflation.

 134 households participated in the survey, or roughly one in every fifteen. The new price of the average weekly ‘shopping basket’ of St Helenian households is estimated to be £229.48, compared with £149.47 from the previous survey in 2009. Most of this increase over the eight-year period is due to price inflation; goods and services cost more than they did in 2009. However, when price inflation is taken into account, the new basket is 16% more that the old one, indicating a small increase in the volume of goods and services purchased. The new basket includes a number of new item categories that were not in the previous basket, such as mobile phones. Some categories from the previous basket have also been discontinued, where expenditures on these items have fallen. The new basket will be used as the basis for the RPI from the first quarter of 2018.

 The 2017 HES was a collaborative effort and sincere thanks are extended to the households who participated, and to the businesses that provided ‘hamper’ prizes for the raffle draw of participating households; these were the Rose & Crown, Thorpe’s & Sons, Solomon & Company (St Helena) Plc, the Queen Mary Store, Joshua Brothers Covered Production, Essence Beauty Salon, and G-Unique Designs.

 The full report and the data used to prepare the tables and charts in the report are available on the St Helena Statistics Office website at: http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics.

 For further information,  please contact the Statistics Office, by email: statistics@sainthelena.gov.sh, by telephone: (+290) 22138, or in person at The Castle, Jamestown.

Full Report available here: Household Expenditure Survey Report 2017

Data File available here: HES 2017 Results

#StHelena #Statistics #HES2017 #ResultsReleased

https://www.facebook.com/StHelenaGovt/

https://twitter.com/StHelenaGovt

SHG
23 May 2018

 

 

 

 

About this Bulletin

The fifth Statistical Bulletin of 2018 releases the latest estimates of the size of the population, the number of births and deaths in the first quarter, and arrivals and departures for March. The data released in this Bulletin can be downloaded in Excel format from the ‘Population’ file on the St Helena Statistics website at: www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics-data. A PDF version of this Bulletin is available here.

Population estimates

At the end of March 2018 the estimated number of persons on St Helena, residents plus visitors, was 4,713. The resident population, excluding visitors, was estimated to be 4,628. This is a very slight increase compared to the end of February 2018 and a 4% increase compared to the end of March 2017. The St Helenian resident population was estimated to stand at 4,276, this is a 2% increase from the previous month and a 4% increase compared to the end of March 2017.

The number of people on St Helena at the end of January 2018 was 4,901 – the highest number recorded for at least the last 10 years. The population of St Helena is usually higher around the Christmas period, but an additional factor this year was the overlap of the RMS St Helena and the scheduled air service between October and February. The number declined by over 200 in February, following the typical trend after Christmas, when visitors return back to their usual residence or off-shore employment.

Arrivals and departures

The total number of arrivals for March 2018 was estimated to be 474, bringing the total for the first quarter 2018 to 1,848. This is an increase of 21%, or 315 persons, from the previous quarter and a 47% increase, or 592 persons, from the same quarter in 2017. However, for January to early February 2017 the RMS St Helena was still in service, overlapping with the scheduled air service provided by Airlink.

Of the 474 arrivals in March 2018, 73% arrived by air, with the remaining 27% arriving by yacht or other vessels. The number of air arrivals was 348, which was a slight increase compared to February (318). However, due to timing of the scheduled air service, there were five plane arrivals from Johannesburg in March compared with four in February.

Births and deaths

In the first quarter of 2018, there were a total of six births and 13 deaths on St Helena; this is a slight decrease in the number of deaths compared to the same quarter of the previous year. However the number of births more than halved compared to the same period of 2017, where 13 births were reported. In recent years, the number of deaths has exceeded births. During the last two quarters there were three times more deaths than births, 31 deaths and 10 births.

About this Bulletin

This fourth bulletin of 2018 covers the release of the new estimates of inflation rates and the Retail Price Index (RPI) for the first quarter. The data released in this Bulletin, including the RPI, itself, can be downloaded from the St Helena Statistics website at: www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics-dataA PDF version of this Bulletin is available here.

Latest inflation rates

The latest rate of annual price inflation is estimated to be 2.8%, between the first quarter of 2018 and the first quarter of 2017. The annual price inflation rate for the previous quarter (Quarter 4 in 2017) was higher, at 4.0%.

Inflation rates of RPI categories

Categories with the lowest inflation are ‘Fuel and Light’ and ‘Services’ at 0.2% and 0.9% respectively. Apart from small fluctuations in the price of gas cylinders, prices of items in this category have seen very little change; 80% of the category is electricity, whose price has not changed since Quarter 1 2016 (petrol and diesel is included in the ‘Transport’ category). The ‘Services’ category includes medical and telecommunications fees and charges; some telecommunications fees have decreased, and any impact on the RPI of the increase in medical fees announced at the beginning of April will be captured in the second quarter.

The category with the highest annual price increase is ‘Alcohol and Tobacco’, at 8.2%. After several quarters when food price inflation has been much higher than the overall average for all items, for Quarter 1 the inflation rate for food has been measured at 2.9%, only very slightly higher than the overall average of 2.8% (Chart 1). Food comprises around a third of the overall average shopping basket on St Helena, so this has a major impact on the overall inflation rate, contributing a full 1 percentage point to the overall 2.8% rate. The inflation rate of ‘Transport’ also increased, from 1.3% last quarter to 3.5% this quarter, since both petrol and diesel prices rose, by around 4% and 6% respectively.

Chart 3 shows the values of the Retail Price Index, together with selected categories, rather than annual inflation rates. This is useful to illustrate price changes since 2010, rather than just the past year. The price of ‘Fuel and Light’, for example, has increased much faster than ‘All Items’ since 2010, even though the current annual inflation rate for this category is quite low. On the other hand, price rises of ‘Services’ have been lower than the overall rate.

Prices for the quarterly RPI calculation are collected from retailers in the last month of the quarter, in this case the second and third weeks of March. This was just after the introduction of a new shipping tariff and the first call of the new MV Helena shipping service. The timing of this new service and the timing of the RPI price collection mean that any changes to prices made by retailers as a result of the change in freight rates may not have been fully captured. In fact, many of the prices collected were unchanged from the price collection in December 2017, although there were some increases to the price of some larger items, such as household appliances and new vehicles. These increases are reflected in the inflation rates for transport and household goods, which both went up. Any further price changes that occur as a result of the new shipping tariff should be captured in the price collection exercise for the Q2 2018 RPI in June.

External influences: UK inflation, and South African inflation and exchange rates

St Helena imports most of its goods from either South Africa or the UK, and so changes in the prices in these countries, as well as exchange rates between the South African Rand and the St Helenian Pound, are often reflected in changes in prices of items on the shelves on the Island.

The annual change in prices in the UK, measured using the UK CPI, was 2.5% at the end of March 2018, down from 2.7% in February and 3.0% in January. This is consistent with St Helena’s Q1 inflation rate, especially since one of the largest downward pressures in the UK was food prices (the annual food price inflation rate in the UK for March was 3.1%, down from 3.7% in January). The annual inflation rate in South Africa also fell in March to 3.8%, down from 4.0% in February and 4.4% in January. Annual food price inflation in March in South Africa was 2.8%, down from 3.3% for February and much lower than the overall rate.

Between Quarter 1 2018 and the same quarter in 2017, the UK Pound (and hence the St Helena Pound) strengthened slightly against the Rand. In Q1 2017, a St Helena pound was worth 16.37 Rands on average, but this increased by 1.7% to 16.65 Rands on average in Q1 2018. The UK Pound also regained significant ground against the US Dollar, increasing in value about 12% from Q1 2017 and regaining most of its per-Brexit level. This may have also added to the downward pressure on the St Helena inflation rate, since any goods and commodities whose prices are set in dollars may become slightly cheaper.

Rebasing the Retail Price Index

The Statistics Office is currently in the process of ‘rebasing’ the RPI, using the data collected from the Household Expenditure Survey in November. This involves calculating new expenditure patterns to update the current basket, for example adding items which are relevant now (e.g. mobile telephones) and deleting any that are no longer purchased. The next inflation rate calculation for Quarter 2 2018 is expected to use this new ‘shopping basket’. The Statistics Office would like to thank all those that took part in the 2017 survey, which helps make sure that this important exercise is accurate.

Some common questions:

What is the Retail Price Index (RPI)?

The RPI is the official measure of the average change in the retail prices of goods and services. It is estimated each quarter, or once every three months. Changes in the RPI measure retail price inflation, and are usually computed on an annual basis; that is, comparing price changes over a twelve month period. For detailed tables of the RPI, please visit www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics-data.

What is price inflation?

Inflation simply means that something is growing or increasing, but when used in the context of the economy it usually refers to the change in average prices of goods and services over time. On St Helena, the primary measure of inflation is the RPI, and it is usually quoted as an annual estimate: it is the amount by which the RPI has grown over the preceding twelve months. A decrease in the RPI is also possible, though unusual – over a twelve month period, a drop in the RPI would result in retail price deflation (i.e. a negative inflation rate).

Why do we measure the RPI?

The rate of change of retail prices is an important indicator of economic performance and is used by Government, businesses and society in general. It enables an understanding of the impact of price changes on households and individuals, including for specific groups of goods and services.

How is the RPI constructed?

The basis for the RPI is the average cost of goods and services purchased by households on St Helena, or a weekly ‘shopping basket’. Items which households purchase more of, such as food, have a bigger share, or weight, in the RPI basket (the full specification of the RPI basket is available from the Statistics Office website). The current RPI uses a basket from the last Household Expenditure Survey in 2009, and baseline prices for that basket were recorded in the second quarter of 2010. Prices have been collected every quarter since then, to calculate the latest price of the average shopping basket. By convention, the value of the basket in the baseline period is scaled to 100, and the RPI values are quoted in relation to that baseline. Thus, an RPI value of 120 means that average prices have increased by 20 per cent compared to those recorded in the base period.

What happens when an item is not available?

If a particular item is not available during a round of price checks, a series of prescribed steps are followed to ensure the RPI measurement is not distorted. An important principle is that price changes should reflect actual price increases, and not changes in the quality of items. If an item is not available then either the previous price will be carried forward from the previous quarter, or a suitable substitute item will be identified and an adjustment calculation made. Great care is taken to ensure that this substitution is similar to the original item, that it represents the item category, and that it does not introduce error to the measurement of the RPI.

About this Bulletin

The third Statistical Bulletin of 2018 provides new monthly estimates of the number of arrivals and departures to and from St Helena, with a focus on the period since the start of scheduled air operations in October 2017. All arrivals by air and sea are included, except very short-term day visitors arriving on cruise ships. The data released in this Bulletin is available here. A PDF version of this Bulletin is available here.

Total Arrivals and Departures

During the five-month period between October 2017 and February 2018, there were very high numbers of total arrivals – 2,908, more than a thousand higher than in the same period in 2016/17. The peak month was January, with 843 arrivals in total. Total departures were also high, but slightly lower than arrivals – 2,627. Most passengers arrived by air, some 1,417 – this is 50 arrivals higher than the number arriving by sea, on the RMS St Helena, during the same period in the previous year (1,367), or an average of 10 arrivals more per month.

Chart 1: Arrivals per month, by air and RMS St Helena, 2015-18

The period covered represents the historical peak season for arrivals to St Helena, when many Saint Helenians visit family and friends for Christmas and when weather conditions are favourable. Trends during these months may not be indicative of trends for the remaining seven months of the year. Additionally, during this five-month period, both the newly scheduled weekly Airlink air service to Johannesburg and the three-weekly RMS St Helena shipping service to Cape Town were operational. This almost doubled the total passenger arrival capacity compared to either the shipping or air service alone.

Table 1: Total arrivals and departures, by mode of transport

Purpose of Visit

Most arrivals – some 40% – came to St Helena for tourism or a holiday; this may include relatively small numbers of Saint Helenians who live abroad but who visit for short periods, for example to visit family and friends, but who were not classed as ‘returning residents’. Returning residents were 28% of the total, and those arriving for business, which includes government personnel recruited overseas, and their families, were 15%. Transit passengers were 17% and mostly arrived by yacht.

Table 2: Purpose of arrivals

Arrivals by Air

Of those arriving by air, 42% were tourists, 25% arrived for business, and 24% were returning residents; the remaining number were transit passengers, including crew for merchant shipping. Arrivals of returning residents by air were highest in December (135), in time for Christmas. Since there is keen interest in developing the tourism industry, a number of additional indicators have been calculated for tourists arriving by air. Some points include:

  • In December, January, and February there were around 150 tourists or holiday makers per month, around twice as many as October and November
  • Around a quarter were British, with 22% South African, 19% St Helenian, 6% French, and 15% from elsewhere in Europe
  • Most were in their forties and fifties (41%), with a further third sixty and over. Very few recorded tourists were under twenty (6%)
  • 61% of tourists were male, almost twice as many males as females in some months
  • At least half of all tourists stayed in hotels or guest houses in January and February (please note that data on accommodation was not captured prior to 2018)

Table 3: Arrivals by air

Length of Stay

The average length of stay for tourists both arriving and departing by air was around 13 days. A stay of seven or eight days – from one Saturday flight to the next (or the Sunday, if the outbound flight follows the Ascension shuttle) is the most common option, for 49% of tourists. Although 10% of tourists stayed only one day, this is heavily biased by the very first flight in October which included several persons staying only overnight.

Length of stay has been calculated for those persons arriving for tourism and arriving and departing by air by the end of February 2018. These are preliminary estimates; note that any tourists that did not depart by the end of February have been excluded from the calculations.

Table 4: Length of stay of tourists arriving and departing by air, by month of departure

Departures

Most departures – 68% – were tourists and visitors returning to their place of residence, including St Helenians living overseas. 15% were people either leaving for employment opportunities or to settle elsewhere, and 11% were residents who were taking a holiday overseas.

Table 5: Departures from St Helena