Apparel Inflation Flat in January

Consumers paid higher prices for many things in January, but apparel was not one of them.

January’s consumer price index (CPI) had its biggest increase in six months, according to data just released by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Prices for all goods and services rose by 1.6% (unadjusted for seasonality) compared to the same month last year, with the core rate of inflation, which ignores food and energy price moves, also up 1.6%.

The index for apparel and footwear, however, fell by 0.3%, its worst showing in almost three years.

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Apparel prices (excluding footwear) were flat, compared to a 1% increase in December. Footwear prices dropped by 1.9%.

Womenswear prices spiked 3.1% in the month, after a 3.2% increase in December. Menswear prices dropped by 1.7% in the month.

Prices for infants’ and children’s apparel fell by 1.9%, with girlswear prices plummeting almost 9%. A glut of tween girls’ clothing at department, discount and specialty stores has been putting downward pressure on prices. Boys’ apparel prices increased 3.9%.

Government consumer price indices are based on ticketed and sale prices of products, but do not reflect the impact of other promotional discounts such as Buy One Get One, loyalty point redemption or other transaction-based discounts.

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