Debitoor Dictionary

Accounting terms explained in a simple way

Over 150 Articles for Founders and Entrepreneurs

    Purchasing power - What is purchasing power?

    Purchasing power refers to the amount of goods or services that a certain amount of money can buy at a given time

    Starting and maintaining solid, professional accounting practices is essential for the growth of a business. Make sure yours are in order with Debitoor. Start today.

    Purchasing power is an indicator of the current market condition because it allows a business or individual to discern how far their pound will go.

    Because purchasing power can be measured by the quantity of a certain item or items that can be bought with a specific amount of money, it’s a simple and straightforward method that can be helpful in settings budgets.

    Example of purchasing power

    Purchasing power changes over time at different rates in different economies. An example of purchasing power in the UK is as follows:

    • In 1982, the average price for a loaf of sliced white bread was £0.37

    • In 2012, the average price for a loaf of sliced white bread was £1.24

    While the difference might not seem that significant over a period of 30 years, it is in fact an increase of 235%. Consumer purchasing power is most often measured in easily trackable, staple items such as milk and loaves of bread.

    Fluctuations in purchasing power

    The result of a decrease in purchasing power is known as inflation. This generally occurs over time with the increase in money supply produced by a nation for various reasons.

    Hyperinflation occurs typically in situations of upheaval, such as occurred in Germany after World War I, when more money was printed in order to pay off debts and compensation to affected nations.

    This led to devaluation of the German mark, meaning that the purchasing power plummeted and the currency became less and less valuable.

    Purchasing power in economics

    This term also has a place in economics as it is an important indicator of the economic condition of the nation, as well as impacts on consumer spending and investment decisions.

    Investments are particularly impacted by fluctuations in purchasing power, as low risk investments can result in a lower return on investment.

    In the UK, the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) monitors and regularly releases reports on the state of inflation.