WASHINGTON — Retail apparel prices fell a seasonally adjusted 0.3 percent in April as a strong increase in boys’ apparel prices helped offset the declines in women’s, men’s and girl’s apparel prices, the U.S. Labor Department reported Tuesday in the Consumer Price Index.
Women’s apparel prices dipped 0.3 percent last month, while men’s apparel prices declined 0.1 percent. Girl’s apparel prices dropped 3.1 percent, while boys’ apparel prices rose 2.5 percent.
The overall CPI increased 0.4 percent in April after rising 0.1 percent in March. The core index that excludes volatile food and energy prices increased 0.2 percent.
In the women’s category, price declines of 1.1 percent in suits and separates, 0.6 percent in the combined underwear, nightwear, sportswear and accessories group, and 0.3 percent in outerwear were offset by a 2.9 percent increase in the dress category.
The men’s wear price declines were driven by a single category, furnishings, which fell 3.3 percent last month. Price increases were led by the combined suits, sport coats and outerwear category, which posted a 3.6 percent gain, followed by shirts and sweaters with a 1 percent hike, and pants and shorts with a 0.4 percent increase.
Chris G. Christopher Jr., director of consumer economics at IHS Global Insight, said higher energy and food prices were behind the bump-up in the overall CPI.
“The CPI no longer has falling gasoline prices to cover up rising prices for other items, so the headline CPI climbed 0.4 percent for its largest gain since early 2013,” Christopher said. “Gasoline prices climbed 8.1 percent in April, swamping the modest 2.2 percent gain in March.”
Core commodity prices continued to fall in April, by 0.1 percent, but service prices climbed 0.3 percent.
“From the household budget standpoint, April’s consumer price increases are definitely not good news,” Christopher said. “Core commodity (goods) consumer prices kept falling, but that pattern is likely to be far less reliable in the future, with the greenback faltering and raw-materials prices gradually increasing.”
“The all-too-familiar story of cheap goods should remain in place for a few more months, but is not likely to last through summer unless the global economy faces more massive woes than of late,” he added.