Apparel Prices Are Creeping Back Up Again

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The apparel pricing roller coaster that’s wreaked havoc on retailers’ profits of late has started a slow ascent.

Per the U.S. Labor Department’s latest Consumer Price Index (CPI), published Thursday, apparel prices rose 0.3% in October—a small increase but one that’s helped push up the 12-month average by 0.7%. In fact, overall apparel prices fell in only three of the last seven months.

By category, the price of women’s clothing rose 0.2% last month, as increases in dresses, suits and separates offset declines in outerwear, intimates, sleepwear and sportswear. On a year-over-year basis, womenswear prices are up 0.3%.

The same can’t be said for menswear prices, however, which fell 0.2% overall in October, despite increases in all categories except accessories, and are down 0.5% year-over-year.

Childrenswear was mixed last month, with girls’ apparel prices dropping 0.9% (though they’re up 3.1% year-over-year) and boyswear increasing 0.4% (up 3 percent in the last 12 months). Meanwhile, infants’ and toddlers’ apparel prices are still depressed, after a monthly decline of 1.1%. On a year-over-year basis, prices are down 5.8%.

Overall, the CPI—which is what people pay for food, clothing, fuels and other goods and services—increased 0.4% in October and it’s up 1.6% over the last year. That’s the largest 12-month increase since October 2014 and it’s worth noting that inflation has grown steadily since July, increasing 0.2% in August and 0.3% in September.

CPI October 2016
Image: Courtesy of US Labor Department


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