To compile a representative a consumer price index, Britain’s Office for National Statistics [ONS] added MP3 players, flat-screen television, music downloads, digital camcorders, and a bottle of lager at nightclubs to its “shopping basket” of more than 650 consumer goods and services.

Some changes, like the replacement of sparkling wine with imported champagne, simply represent evolving palate. The addition of cold and flu drink powder and liquid foundation for makeup represents products where consumer spending has become significant but had not been on the list.

The Office has finally realized that people do drink significant amounts in nightclubs. They used to survey prices of lager at only restaurants, pubs and wine bars. Nightclubs have been added to the list of survey locations.

This is bad news for the music industry already shaken by piracy and plummeting sales of grossly overpriced CDs. CD players have been replaced with MP3 players “to represent the personal audio market,” O.N.S. said in its report on the changes. While music CDs and cassettes have not been completely dropped from the list, the addition of online music downloads “to represent an emerging market not covered by existing items” foreshadows the slow death of the corporate music industry.

O.N.S. announcement on 2006 changes to the “shopping basket.”

Full O.N.S. report on the 2006 changes (PDF).