By  on June 17, 2010

WASHINGTON — Retail apparel prices increased a seasonally adjusted 0.2 percent in May compared with April, but fell 0.6 percent compared with a year earlier, the Labor Department said Thursday in its Consumer Price Index.

Women’s apparel prices rose 0.5 percent from a month earlier, but declined 0.1 percent year-over-year. Men’s apparel prices advanced 0.3 percent month-to-month, but dropped 2.1 percent compared with May 2009.

The overall CPI declined 0.2 percent in May, but increased 2 percent from a year earlier. The so-called core prices, which exclude the volatile food and energy sectors, rose 0.1 percent month-to-month and advanced 0.9 percent in 12-month comparisons.

“The May report on core consumer prices yet again points in the same direction — in competitive markets for goods and services there are absolutely no signs of any inflation pressure,” said Brian Bethune, chief U.S. financial economist for IHS Global Insight.

Prices for women’s outerwear declined 3.4 percent in May and dropped 3.9 percent year-to-year. Dress prices fell 3.2 percent month-to-month and plummeted 9.1 percent compared with a year earlier. Women’s suits and separates saw prices rise 2.1 percent in May and advance 1.8 percent in 12-month comparisons. Prices in the broad women’s underwear, nightwear, sportswear and accessories category fell 0.1 percent compared with a month earlier, but rose 1.4 percent year-over-year.

Men’s suits, sport coats and outerwear prices were up 1.6 percent in May, but fell 0.4 percent compared with a year earlier. Prices for furnishings declined 1.4 percent month-to-month, but advanced 0.9 percent in 12-month comparisons. Men’s shirts and sweaters saw prices rise 1 percent in May, but fall 3.5 percent year-to-year. Retail prices for men’s pants and shorts rose 0.1 percent compared with a month earlier, but declined 4.6 percent compared with May 2009.

Boys’ apparel prices increased 1.6 percent in May, but fell 5.9 percent year-to-year. Girls’ apparel prices fell 0.5 percent for the month and 4.1 percent for the year.

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