This study uses a sample of daily food prices scraped from retail chains’ websites for the period from July 2018 to December 2020, comprising over 5.9 million data points. Using these food prices, we construct 132 food price subindexes compatible with official data published by the Turkish Statistical Institute (Turkstat), which are published only once a month. We then use the online food price subindexes to calculate the primary food inflation rate. We find that changes in our online food price index and the Turkstat data are closely related. The daily online food price index is then used to nowcast official food and headline inflation. Our results show that the online index successfully nowcasts the official inflation rates, providing results considerably earlier than the official rate is announced. We also observe that the implementation of the first coronavirus restrictions in Turkey in early 2020 caused online food prices to jump, whereas official food prices did not experience the same spike.
Journal of Business Cycle Research