The surprising items that are much cheaper now than 25 years ago


Grocery items from whole chickens to a carton of beer are much cheaper now than they were 25 years ago, at least when it comes to the buying power of wages.

A Woolworths catalogue from 1994 showed a 1.45kg chicken selling for $5.29, or about $3.65 a kilogram. 

In 2019, a similar-sized free range chicken is selling for $11.60 or $8 a kilogram.

The price of poultry has risen by just 25 cents a year, on average, since the mid-1990s.

Put another way, an average weekly wage of $620, or $32,240 a year, in mid-1994 bought 117 size 14 chickens.

In 2019, a typical full-time wage of $1,604.90 – for an annual salary of $83,455 – buys 138 chickens, or 18 per cent more white meat than 25 years ago.

CommSec chief economist Craig James said a raw chicken was cheaper in real terms, adjusted for inflation, than it was 25 years ago.

‘Advertisements from 1994 highlight some of the gains made in affordability over time,’ he said.

‘Beer and meat are more affordable now than 25 years ago and chicken is one item that can be purchased at a cheaper price than 1994.’ 

More than two decades ago, a 24-pack carton of VB bottles sold for $23.99 – back when Paul Keating was Labor prime minister and Muriel’s Wedding and Priscilla Queen of the Desert, both starring the late Bill Hunter, were screening at the cinemas.

In 1994 dollars, an average weekly full-time bought 25 cartons of VB, containing 375ml bottles.

In 2019, Liquorland is selling the same package for $50. 

An average weekly wage today would buy 32 cartons of VB.

During the past 25 years, wages have risen by 165.5 per cent compared with 85.5 per cent for inflation. 

Back in 1994, interest rates as set by the Reserve Bank of Australia stood at 4.75 per cent compared with today’s record low of 1.25 per cent. 


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