WASHINGTON — Retail apparel prices declined a seasonally adjusted 0.1 percent in August compared with July and fell 0.4 percent compared with a year earlier, the Labor Department said Friday in its Consumer Price Index.
Women’s apparel prices rose 0.3 percent in August and advanced 0.8 percent year-over-year. Men’s apparel prices declined 1 percent month-to-month and were flat in 12-month comparisons.
The overall CPI edged up 0.3 percent compared with a month earlier and increased 1.1 percent compared with August 2009. The so-called core index, which excludes the volatile food and energy sectors, was flat month-to-month and rose 0.9 percent from a year ago.
Deflation is something to watch as the economic recovery continues at a sluggish pace, said Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist for IHS Global Insight.
“The main risk on the price front remains that inflation will be too low, not too high,” Gault said.
Prices for women’s outerwear rose 0.4 percent in August and advanced 4.4 percent year-over-year. Women’s dress prices rose 0.3 percent month-to-month, but declined 5.3 percent in 12-month comparisons. Women’s suits and separates prices declined 0.7 percent in August and dropped 1 percent from a year ago. Prices in the broad women’s underwear, nightwear, sportswear and accessories category rose 1.5 percent month-to-month and increased 5.4 percent in 12-month comparisons.
Men’s suits, sport coats and outerwear prices dropped 1.6 percent in August, but rose 3.9 percent from a year ago. Men’s furnishings declined 0.2 percent month-to-month and rose 1.3 percent compared with a year earlier. Men’s shirt and sweater prices edged up 0.2 percent in August, but fell 0.4 percent in 12-month comparisons. Pants and shorts prices fell 1.5 percent compared with a month earlier and decreased 3.7 percent from a year ago.
Boys’ apparel prices rose 4.5 percent in August, but fell 2.8 percent compared with a year earlier. Girls’ apparel prices dropped 3.5 percent month-to-month and tumbled 11.3 percent from a year ago.