WASHINGTON — Pushed down by the men’s sector, retail apparel prices fell a seasonally adjusted 0.3 percent in April, according to the Labor Department’s Consumer Price Index released Friday.
A 2.1 percent decline in men’s apparel prices tipped the sector’s overall price index to the negative in the month, even though women’s apparel prices rose 0.3 percent, girls’ apparel prices increased 0.2 percent and boys’ prices were up 1.6 percent.
Prices fell in every sector of the men’s category. Retail prices for the combined suits, sport coats and outerwear group declined 4.5 percent, as prices for shirts and sweaters dropped 3.3 percent. Prices for furnishings were off 1 percent and prices for pants and shorts dipped 0.9 percent.
In women’s, prices for outerwear rose 2.6 percent, as prices for suits and separates increased 1.4 percent. Prices for dresses fell 1.5 percent, while prices for the combined category of underwear, nightwear, sportswear and accessories declined 1.3 percent.
The overall CPI rose a seasonally adjusted 0.1 percent in April. Core retail prices, excluding the volatile food and energy sectors, were up 0.3 percent.
Chris G. Christopher Jr., U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight, noted that the total CPI is 0.2 percent below last year, with energy off a substantial 19.4 percent, paced by a 31.7 percent decline in gasoline prices. He said while food prices were still up, the long-term rise has slowed, which is “good news for lower-income households who have had a hard time swallowing higher grocery prices.”
Christopher also noted that the weakness in commodity prices from the strong dollar in late 2014 has mitigated.
“The new dimensions to the price world are clear evidence that food is no longer a problem and that dollar drag on prices has maxed out,” he added.