What is Wholesale Price Index?

What is Wholesale Price Index?

Have you heard about the term Wholesale Price Index (WPI) You might have observed that the prices of goods have risen. A few years back, a movie ticket in a cinema was less than 100. The minimum price for a seat in a multiplex movie theatre is 150 rs. A better example is in my early childhood, around 2004, exactly two decades earlier, I could shop for a bag full of groceries for 100 rs. We can’t even get two small silk chocolates for that price now. So obviously, prices of every commodity have risen in the past few decades. But what is causing the rise in prices? 

Wholesale Price Index Explained.
Wholesale Price Index Explained.

Have you heard of the term inflation? If you’re a working professional, you blame it for rapid spending because of rising prices. Prices are skyrocketing, and everyone’s salary is going at a snail’s pace. 

So what exactly is inflation? Inflation is the gradual increase in prices over a period of time. It’s typically measured by comparing the value of a price index over one period to another. A price index is a basket of various household goods and services. Inflation is a broad measure that can indicate the overall price increase or the cost of living in a country. Various price indexes determine how inflation affects our pockets. Today, let’s talk about the Wholesale Price Index. 

Definition: The Wholesale Price Index (WPI) is a statistical measure that tracks the average price changes of goods traded in bulk within a country’s domestic market. It is an inflation indicator usually expressed as a percentage change from the previous month or year. 


Wholesale Price Index (WPI) is a way to measure how the prices of things that are sold in large quantities, like groceries or other products, change over time. It’s like an extensive price list that helps us understand if things are getting more expensive or cheaper.

Imagine you have a favorite toy you like buying from the store. The price you pay for that toy can change over time. Sometimes it may become more expensive, and sometimes it may become cheaper. The Wholesale Price Index helps us keep track of these changes.

The Wholesale Price Index looks at the prices of many things people buy in large quantities, like toys, food, clothes, and other items. It adds up all these prices and calculates an average. Then, it compares this average to the prices from previous months or years.

Now, imagine you have a big basket with different types of toys. Each toy has a price tag. The Wholesale Price Index is like a unique calculator that adds up the prices of all the toys in the basket and tells us if the overall cost is going up or down.

When the Wholesale Price Index goes up, it means that, on average, the prices of things sold in large quantities are increasing. This can happen for many reasons, such as if the cost of making toys increases or there is more toy demand. On the other hand, if the Wholesale Price Index goes down, it means that, on average, the prices of things are getting cheaper.

So, the Wholesale Price Index is a tool that helps us understand how the prices of many different things change over time, and it’s important because it can give us an idea of whether things are becoming more expensive or cheaper in general.

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Calculation of Wholesale Price Index (WPI)

The government publishes the WPI number monthly. WPIis expressed in ratios or percentages. It shows the average change in prices of goods for commercial consumption. How do we arrive at this figure? 

The WPI index is based on the wholesale prices of a few select commodities. An assessment of these commodities will give us a complete view of the WPI value.

Here is the formula to calculate Wholesale Price Index.

WPI = (Current Price / Base Price) X 100.

So, WPI is an index that tells us how the price of a commodity is changed at the wholesale level. But how does it affect people in business or the commoner?

How a Wholesale Price Index (WPI) Works?

The Wholesale Price Index (WPI) is a key economic indicator that tracks wholesale-level price changes within an economy. Here’s a concise overview of how it operates:

  • Data Collection: Government agencies collect price data regularly, encompassing a variety of goods and services from sectors like agriculture, manufacturing, and mining.
  • Weighted Components: Each item in the WPI basket is assigned a weight based on its economic importance, giving more significance to items like raw materials.
  • Price Tracking: Prices for these selected items are monitored regularly, usually every month, and compared to a base year’s prices.
  • Index Calculation: It is calculated using a Laspeyres formula, which multiplies the current price of each item by its base-year quantity and then aggregates these values to generate an index number reflecting price changes.
  • Inflation Assessment: A Rising WPI indicates inflation, while a decrease suggests deflation, providing insights into price trends upstream in the production chain.
  • Policy and Business Implications: The Price Index data guide policymakers in formulating economic policies, like adjusting interest rates or subsidies, to manage inflation. Businesses use it to analyze raw material costs, helping in pricing and procurement decisions.

What is the Purpose of the WPI Index?

The primary purposes of the WPI are:

  • Inflation Monitoring: One of the primary functions of the WPI is to monitor inflation. Tracking price changes at the wholesale level provides an early indication of inflationary or deflationary trends in an economy. This information is crucial for policymakers, central banks, and governments to make informed decisions about monetary and fiscal policies.
  • Policy Formulation: The WPI plays a pivotal role in shaping economic policies. Central banks use it as a reference point for adjusting interest rates to control inflation. Governments may also use the data to make decisions regarding subsidies, trade policies, and other measures to stabilize prices and support economic growth.
  • Business Decision-Making: Businesses rely on the WPI to assess the cost trends of raw materials and intermediate goods, helping them make pricing decisions and optimize their supply chains. It provides valuable insights into cost structures, enabling companies to stay competitive.
  • Economic Forecasting: Economists and analysts use the WPI to develop economic forecasts and assess the overall financial health of a nation. It helps them understand the dynamics of price changes across various industries and sectors.
  • International Trade: The WPI can influence international trade decisions. Changes in the WPI can affect the competitiveness of a country’s exports and imports, impacting trade balances and trade policies.


The Wholesale Price Index (WPI) is a vital barometer in economic analysis, offering critical insights into inflationary trends and guiding policy decisions. While it excels in providing early indicators of price movements, it’s essential to recognize its limitations, mainly its focus on wholesale prices rather than consumer costs. As the economy evolves, the WPI plays a crucial role in policy formulation, aiding businesses in making informed decisions and offering valuable sector-specific insights. By understanding its pros and cons, policymakers, economists, and companies can harness the power of the WPI for more effective decision-making in an ever-changing economic landscape.

We’ve created this content for informational purposes only, and it reflects the views of its respective authors/entities (freelancers/interns) and not those of Winspire Magazine. Winspire Magazine does not endorse or vouch for the accuracy of the information provided in this content. It is the reader’s responsibility to verify and ensure the information is correct and up-to-date. Winspire Magazine disclaims any liability or responsibility for any damages or losses from using this content. Therefore, readers should take all necessary steps to verify the accuracy and reliability of any information presented in this content.

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