WASHINGTON — Women’s retail apparel prices fell in February for the first time in three months, as merchants rushed to put early spring merchandise on sale and cleared out fall and winter apparel on deep discounts.

Retail prices for women’s apparel declined a seasonally adjusted 1.8 percent, after an 0.6 percent increase in January, a 0.5 percent rise in December and a 0.6 percent increase in November, the U.S. Labor Department said Friday in its Consumer Price Index.

Compared with a year ago, women’s apparel prices were down 3.8 percent, consistent with a long-term deflationary cycle for the sector.

For complete coverage, see Monday’s WWD.