Retail apparel prices declined a seasonally adjusted 0.6 percent in November after rising the two previous months, as holiday price cutting kicked into gear, the U.S. Labor Department reported Friday in its Consumer Price Index.

Women’s apparel prices also fell 0.6 percent, as all categories declined except the combined underwear, nightwear, sportswear and accessories group, which increased 0.5 percent. Prices for dresses were down 3.4 percent, outerwear dipped 0.4 percent, and suits and separates were off 0.1 percent. Girls’ apparel prices fell 5 percent in the month.

Prices for men’s apparel were up 0.5 percent, with gains in every category except shirts and sweaters, which fell 0.8 percent. Price hikes for suits, sports coats and outerwear were up 2.3 percent, furnishings increased 1.2 percent and pants and shorts rose 0.6 percent. Boys’ apparel prices increased 1.3 percent last month.

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The overall CPI fell 0.3 percent in November, the first drop since May, led by falling prices at the gas pump. Gasoline prices fell 7.4 percent in the month, while energy prices declined 4.1 percent.

“In November, gasoline prices fell sharply and drove the headline CPI south,” said Chris G. Christopher Jr., senior principal economist at IHS Global Insight. “Grocery prices rose at a somewhat faster pace in October and November (up 0.3 percent each month), as the impact of the Midwest drought is starting to swallow a larger part of household budgets.”

The core index, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, was up 0.1 percent in the month.

“If you take energy prices and elevated food inflation fears out of the picture, consumer prices look relatively tame,” Christopher said.

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