WASHINGTON — Retail apparel prices declined a seasonally adjusted 0.3 percent in November but rose 1 percent versus a year ago, the Labor Department said Wednesday in its Consumer Price Index.
Investors were unmoved by the CPI figures or the Federal Reserve’s decision to keep the federal funds interest rate in its current range of zero to 0.25 percent. The S&P Retail Index was down 0.4 percent, or 1.51 points, to 409.96, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 0.1 percent, or 10.88 points, to 10,441.12.
Women’s apparel prices dropped 0.3 percent month-to-month and increased 1.3 percent year-over-year. Men’s apparel prices fell 0.7 percent and decreased 0.6 percent compared with November 2008.
“It’s a difficult pricing environment, that’s what we’re picking up from the holiday shopping season,” said John Lonski, chief economist at Moody’s Investors Services.
Some retailers discounted early in November to encourage purchasing, but that could prove to be a problem if consumers expect lower prices throughout the holiday season, he said.
The overall CPI rose 0.4 percent month-to-month and advanced 1.8 percent in 12-month comparisons, driven by a jump in fuel prices. The so-called core index, which excludes the volatile food and energy sectors, was flat month-to-month and rose 1.7 percent compared with a year earlier.
Apparel prices continued to decline in most categories in November. Women’s dresses dropped 1.2 percent and fell 0.4 percent compared with a year earlier. Women’s suits and separates slid 0.2 percent, but rose 0.5 percent compared with November 2008. The broad women’s underwear, nightwear, sportswear and accessories category fell 1.3 percent in November but advanced 4.5 percent year-over-year. Women’s outerwear prices rose 1.9 percent, but declined 1.1 percent in 12-month comparisons.
Men’s suits, sport coats and outerwear prices decreased 2 percent in November and fell 4.5 percent compared with a year earlier. Shirts and sweaters fell 0.6 percent and declined 1 percent year-over-year. Pants and shorts were down 1 percent and fell 0.8 percent in 12-month comparisons. Prices for men’s furnishings rose 0.9 percent, and advanced 3.1 percent compared with a year earlier.
Girls’ apparel prices were down 3.6 percent month-to-month and fell 1.8 percent year-to-year. Boys’ apparel prices declined 1.2 percent, and decreased 0.3 percent compared with the same period last year.
The Fed, led by chairman Ben Bernanke — picked as Time magazine’s Person of the Year — said inflation would remain “subdued for some time.” Although the federal funds rate, which influences how much it costs consumers and businesses to borrow money, wasn’t changed on Wednesday, it is expected to migrate higher as the economy strengthens and inflation becomes a concern.
The Fed’s open market committee said “economic activity has continued to pick up” and “the deterioration in the labor market is abating,” but added businesses are still cutting back and are “reluctant” to hire.
Among the day’s decliners on Wall Street was G-III Apparel Group, which laid out plans to sell an additional 1.7 million shares to the public and as many as 255,000 shares to its underwriters, raising as much as $38 million for general corporate purposes and, potentially, acquisitions. But at $19.50 a share, the offer represented a discount of 8.2 percent from G-III’s Tuesday close of $21.25. Shares of the firm, which produces under its own brands as well as under licenses from Calvin Klein, Sean John, Kenneth Cole and others, fell 7.9 percent to $19.57.
Mall operator General Growth Properties Inc. said late Tuesday that it received bankruptcy court approval of its reorganization plan. The real estate investment trust worked out a deal to restructure 87 secured mortgage loans totaling $10.25 billion, and the payment in full of all undisputed claims of creditors. General Growth, which filed for Chapter 11 protection in April, hopes to exit bankruptcy proceedings by yearend. Shares slumped 10.4 percent to $8.81 Wednesday.
Published reports indicated that Iconix Brand Group Inc. was abandoning its pursuit of Playboy Enterprises Inc. because of the integration problems that would follow an acquisition. Iconix shares rose 3 percent to $12.34 while Playboy’s slid 9.9 percent to $3.46.
European markets firmed — with the CAC 40 in Paris advancing 1.1 percent to 3,875.82 and London’s FTSE 100 ahead 0.7 percent to 5,320.26. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.9 percent to 10,177.41 while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong fell at the same rate to 21,611.74.
EXCLUSIVE: @tomford is opening its first-ever beauty store. The boutique, which opens November 20 in London’s Covent Gardens, was designed with the over-the-top glam Ford is known for. Read the full story on WWD.com, link in bio. #wwdbeauty #wwdnews (📷: Simon Wagner) #TomFordBeauty
New York-based DJ @harleyvnewton threw a party to celebrate the holiday collection of her dress and pajama line @hvn at the Ladurée Beverly Hills. It Girls @katebosworth, @rashidajones and more joined in on the fun, which included cocktails, croque monsieur sandwiches and a photo booth. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA.com)
For the holidays, @Burberry partnered with 20-year-old artist @blondeymccoy on a series of three outdoor murals in downtown Manhattan. The murals are McCoy’s interpretation of a Christmas eve party, the idea of charity and the spirit of family. His third mural, pictured here, is the most personal. The image depicts McCoy’s grandparents and father in London’s Trafalgar Square in the Seventies. “My work often features lots of sentimental objects.” #wwdeye
For spring 2018, designers applied bold colors and cartoonish motifs on everything from sneakers and belts to key chains. See all the top men’s accessories trends on WWD.com. #wwdtrends (📷: George Chinsee; Prop Styling by @rnasti; Market Editor: @luiscampuzano)
The @dior-sponsored @guggenheim international gala pre-party has a history of drawing cool-girl musical acts to serenade the crowd –– and last night was no exception. @haimtheband performed songs both new and old, and lured a star-studded audience with the likes of Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Mamoudou Athie and more. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
In a partnership between the @metopera and the @englishnationalopera, “Marnie” was born. The opera, with costumes sponsored by @mrporterlive, is an adaptation of the 1961 thriller by Winston Graham. Arianne Phillips, who created the costumes, is no rookie: She’s styled Madonna for her tours and created costumes for a myriad of films in the past. Read WWD’s interview with Phillips, where she talks about her inspiration for the opera’s costumes on WWD.com #wwdfashion
@barneysnyc took a different approach to their holiday windows this year. Instead of Christmas decor, Barneys tapped @thehaasbrothers to tell a story of positivity, gratitude and inclusivity via heartwarming silliness and humor. “It’s about kids and it’s about coming together and being family and loving each other,” said Simon Haas. #wwdfashion (📷: @joshuascottphoto)
Beauty influencer @kandeejohnson makes her foray into hair care with a collaboration with @ogx_beauty — making it the first time that OGX has teamed up for a product creation. The collab includes shampoos and conditioners in three scents. At 39 and a mom, Johnson is a different profile than the emerging social media stars, but is considered one of the pioneers of the digital beauty influencer world. Read WWD’s interview with her on wwd.com, including the strangest beauty product she’s ever tried #wwdbeauty