Increases in women’s and girls’ retail apparel prices offset declines in men’s and boy’s categories, leading to an overall increase in all apparel prices in July, the U.S. Labor Department’s Consumer Price Index showed on Wednesday.
Prices for women’s apparel were up a seasonally adjusted 0.7 percent last month and girls’ clothing prices gained 1.1 percent, while prices for men’s wear were down 1.2 percent and boys’ apparel prices decreased 2.2 percent.
Overall apparel prices increased 0.3 percent in July, ending a streak of three consecutive months of declines in retail apparel prices.
Prices for all goods sold at retail were up 0.1 percent matching the core index increase. The core index excludes the normally more volatile food and energy sector, but low prices in natural gas, electricity and fuel oil offset a slight increase at the gas pump and held core prices down, while a substantial drop in airfare and cars and trucks helped the core index fight inflation.
“The prognosis for the next six months is for more downward pressure in goods from falling industrial commodities and a stronger dollar,” said Chris G. Christopher Jr., director of consumer economics and IHS Global Insight. “Lackluster global economic growth, a strong dollar and weak raw material prices are not items [that] normally induce inflation worries or consumer discomfort, especially with oil prices under downward pressure.”
Christopher said the U.S. economy is strong enough to give the Fed justification to raise rates in September, despite weakness in some parts of core consumer price inflation.
In women’s wear, there were price increases in all tracked categories, with gains of 2.5 percent in outerwear, 1.4 percent in dresses, 0.4 percent in suits and separates, and 0.2 percent in the combined underwear, nightwear, sportswear and accessories group.
In men’s, the only price increase was a 1.1 percent gain in the suits, sport coats and outerwear group. All other sectors posted price declines — 3.3 percent in shirts and sweaters, 1.7 percent in furnishings and 0.3 percent in pants and shorts.