WASHINGTON — Rising food costs drove prices up on consumer goods, but women's retail apparel prices were flat in April compared with the previous month and dropped 4.3 percent versus a year ago, the Labor Department reported Wednesday in its Consumer Price Index.
Women's apparel prices declined in March by 2.7 percent and in February by 1.8 percent. January was the last month that showed an increase in retail prices in the product category.
Apparel costs overall crept up 0.5 percent compared with the previous month, but dropped 0.7 percent compared with April 2007. Men's apparel prices increased 0.9 percent for the month and 0.8 percent compared with a year ago. Girls' apparel prices increased 0.1 percent on a monthly basis, but dropped 8.7 percent versus April 2007.
Spikes in food costs drove retail prices up 0.2 percent overall after rising 0.2 percent in March. Prices were flat in February and up 0.3 percent in January. March consumer prices just missed consensus estimates of a 0.3 percent increase for the month.
Core prices, excluding the unpredictable food and energy sectors, increased 0.1 percent compared with the previous month and 2.3 percent versus a year ago. Food prices continued to rise in April, but energy costs showed a lull in the increases of the last few months. Sources said the flat energy prices reported in April were temporary, however.
Prices for suits and separates, the most heavily weighted women's apparel category, fell in both monthly and year-over-year comparisons. The category dropped 1.4 percent versus the previous month and 6.2 percent from the prior year. Underwear, nightwear, sportswear and accessories prices were flat compared with the previous month and fell compared with April 2007.
Suits and separates prices were impacted by discounting, said Malinda Harrell, an economist with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The results were typical for April, when prices often fluctuate based on discounting and when the Easter holiday falls, Harrell said.
The flat prices for apparel reflect correction of the decline in prices reported for March, said Charles McMillion, president and chief economist for MBG Information Services.
"Prices were cut so sharply in March they show up as a bounce back in April," McMillion said.The slight downtick in the core rate for April was a "pleasant surprise" and should help alleviate some of the concern about the outlook for inflation, said Kenneth Beauchemin, U.S. economist for Global Insight.
"Nevertheless, plenty of risk remains. The remarkable consistency of the 'across the board' increases in food prices emanates from a number of sources, including the soaring energy prices of recent months. To what extent, and when, the energy price onslaught embeds itself into core consumer prices, is an open question," Beauchemin said.
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews