How has the nation’s shopping basket changed since joining the EU?

A pint of milk cost 6p and cassette recorders were a must-have item when the UK joined the then European Economic Community (EEC) in 1973.

As the UK prepares to leave the European Union in 2020, milk will set you back about 44p a pint and your latest technological purchase is likely to be a smart speaker.

The nation's shopping basket has seen various changes in the last five decades, with the introduction of new items and the demise of others, reflecting evolving lifestyles.

The ONS now includes hi-tech gadgets such as the Amazon echo
The ONS now includes hi-tech gadgets such as the Amazon echo (Andrew Matthews/PA)

For more than 70 years, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has been using a notional "basket of goods and services" to help measure the changing cost of products and services over time, known as consumer price inflation.

In a sign of the current digital age, smart speakers – such as Amazon Echo and Google Home devices – were added to Britain's inflation basket in 2019.

But technology was making waves in the 1970s too, with the cassette recorder making it into the basket in 1976.

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(PA Graphics)

In 1979, music became even more portable with the launch of the Sony Walkman and by 1987 the ONS said the cassette recorder had disappeared from the basket.

While a cassette was blasting out tunes at a social gathering, revellers in the 1970s may well have been having a drink from the Party Seven beer can – which contained seven pints of beer.

The ONS said earliest available records show beer in party containers in the basket in 1974.

At the dinner table, families were sitting down to Smash – a convenience option for those who fancied mashed potatoes fast.

Big Red from the Smash ad campaign
Big Red from the Smash ad campaign (Geoff Caddick/PA)

The famous "For Mash Get Smash" TV advert prompted an increase in sales of the 1960s convenience food, but it did not make it into the basket until 1974.

Garlic bread kicked off the current decade by being included in the 2010 basket, followed by tablet computers in 2012, blueberries in 2013 and sweet potato in 2015, as well as music streaming subscription services, ONS data shows.

By 2018, it was all about health and fitness, with raspberries, action cameras and women's exercise leggings added to the basket.

In 2019, envelopes, washing powder and hi-fis were removed from the basket while the nation's love of cake – and the success of TV shows such as The Great British Bake Off – boosted sales of baking trays.

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