By  on July 19, 2007

WASHINGTON — The price of women's apparel shrunk a seasonally adjusted 1.4 percent last month compared with May and dropped 2.4 percent from a year earlier. The trend runs counter to the overall modest increase in consumer prices.

"It looks like there was more discounting...than usual for June," said Malinda Harrell, an economist at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, pointing specifically to women's suits, separates, underwear, nightwear and accessories.

Suit and separates prices slid 1.2 percent for the month and 0.8 percent for the year, as the category that includes women's underwear, nightwear, activewear and accessories fell 2.1 percent for the month and 5.5 percent against a year earlier. Dress prices inched up 1.1 during June, but decreased 5.2 percent from a year ago.

Prices on all goods inched up 0.2 percent — the smallest increase in five months — after a 0.7 percent bump in May and a 0.4 percent rise in April, according to the Labor Department's Consumer Price Index released Wednesday.

"Overall, it was a relatively tame report," said Mark McMullen, senior economist at Moody's Economy.com. "Inflationary pressures are pretty much in control, which is good news. Obviously, there's trouble and pressure on consumers, on their spending power, due to high energy costs, and gasoline in particular."

Though the retail price for energy goods slid 0.5 percent in June, the compound annual growth rate for the last three months worked out to a 32.9 percent jump.

McMullen said the job market should support continued spending on apparel.

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