The rise of the smart speaker and its associated accessories has been unstoppable over recent months, and its status as a must-have item has now been officially established by the ONS (Office for National Statistics). Every year, the ONS tracks price movements of more than 700 goods and services in the UK in order to calculate inflation, or the rate at which prices rise or fall. These goods and services are placed in a virtual shopping basket that reflects current buying trends and then it’s revealed to the public in early March.

This year, the ONS has added smart, portable and Bluetooth-enabled speakers to its inflation basket in recognition of the fact that more and more households are investing in the versatile music listening devices. They have been joined by cookery items such as roasting tins and baking trays, as well as shop-bought popcorn, flavoured teas and single dinner plates.

In and out

Making room for these new additions is the more traditional hi-fi system, which has been dropped from the basket due to the public’s inexorable move towards online streaming services and portable speakers to listen to music both in the home and on the go. Other items no longer in favour include envelopes, complete crockery sets and washing powder (washing liquid and gel is, however, newly included).

Around 18,000 prices are measured from 20,000 UK outlets to work out inflation and its effect on the country’s financial situation and living costs. The contents of the virtual basket also reveal much about the UK’s habits and lifestyle preferences, showing how developments in technology are radically altering how we access music and other entertainment.

Speaking for itself

The inclusion of smart, portable and Bluetooth-enabled speakers also demonstrates how we are communicating within the home, relying more and more on smart devices, such as Alexa from Amazon or Google’s Home Hub, to help us carry out routine tasks and play pre-programmed playlists at a single voice command. We no longer need to make room for large, cumbersome music systems that can only play music in one room. Now, thanks to portable technology and streaming services, we can take our music with us wherever we go, and that is proving irresistible to UK consumers in 2019.

It is clear, therefore, from this new addition to the ONS basket that people are seeking greater choice and enhanced performance from their portable and smart speakers as they gain in importance and popularity across the UK. In an increasingly fast-paced and virtually connected world, having a versatile speaker that can be easily transported while still offering superb sound quality and added functionality is considered a vital part of daily life by many of us.