Spring’s Early Arrival Helps Women’s Apparel Prices Rise in February

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Inflation slowed in February, according to data released Wednesday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as energy prices continued to drop.

Prices for apparel edged up slightly for the first time in almost a year and a half as warmer-than-average weather in key parts of the country helped retailers sell full-priced early spring merchandise.

Inflation for all items increased by 1 percent year-over-year, below January’s 1.4% rise. Taking food and energy out of the mix, the increase was 2.3%, slightly ahead of the prior month’s rate, due primarily to increases in housing and medical service costs.

The combined apparel and footwear price index rose by 0.9%, its biggest monthly rise since June 2014.

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The index for clothing alone increased by 0.6%, while footwear prices spiked by a surprising 1.8%.

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Women’s apparel prices had their first increase in a year and a half, edging up by 0.2%, while men’s prices dipped by 0.4%. Many retailers reported solid full-priced sales of early spring merchandise as the brief cold snap (which helped clear out the last vestiges of outerwear) in the east was followed by warmer-than-normal temperatures in the east, midwest and other regions.

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While boys’ apparel prices fell 0.4%, prices of girlswear dropped by 1.3%. Infants’ and toddlers’ prices rose by 3.4%.

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