WASHINGTON — Retail apparel prices declined a seasonally adjusted 0.1 percent in August compared with July, but increased 0.6 percent from a year earlier, the Labor Department said Wednesday in its Consumer Price Index.

Women’s apparel prices fell 1.3 percent in August and declined 1 percent year-to-year. Men’s apparel price increased 0.3 percent in August, but dropped 1 percent in 12-month comparisons.

The over CPI rose 0.4 percent in August, but dropped 1.5 percent compared with a year earlier. The so-called core index, which excludes the volatile food and energy sectors, posted a price increase of 0.1 percent for the month and advanced 1.4 percent compared with August 2008.

“The steepest CPI declines are now behind us,” said Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist for IHS Global Insight. “Year-on-year inflation should be back in positive territory by the end of the year as gasoline price comparisons continue to become less favorable.”

The back-to-school season drove girl’s and boy’s retail apparel prices up ,as merchandise hit store floors at full price, said Malinda Harrell, an economist with the Labor Department. Girl’s apparel prices increased 5.1 percent in August and advanced 3.8 percent year-to-year. Boy’s apparel prices rose 2.3 percent in August and spiked 7 percent compared with a year earlier.



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