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Don't bother stopping for caviar tonight

Here's a rich one from the in-case-you-were-wondering file.

Consumers of luxury goods - from Porsche 911s to Louis Vuitton luggage to Broadway tickets for "Cabaret" - saw a 3.7 percent average increase in price for such products between 1999 and 2000, according to the Moet & Chandon Luxury Index, which tracks "the cost of really living."

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The annual index playfully tallies the cost of "a dozen essentials of the idyllic lifestyle in New York," a city in which living isn't cheap for anyone.

It's meant to spoof the Consumer Price Index, which tracks inflation's impact on the cost of such down-market necessities as bread and milk. The CPI rose 3.4 percent over the same period. (Last week's figure for 2001 to date: 3.5 percent.)

Among Moet & Chandon's findings: Prices for Petrossian Russian Beluga caviar increased more than 26 percent - to about $95 for a 30-gram tin. A pound of Teuscher chocolates stayed even at $50. A wash, cut, and blow dry at Frederic Fekkai, a Manhattan salon, held at $150.

If you're shopping for a favorite new retiree, relax. That gold Jaeger-LeCoultre watch - you know, the Reverso Duo 18-carat, pink-gold number you've been eyeing - still only sets you back a cool $18,050.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor