WASHINGTON — Apparel retailer prices fell in November, led by declines in men’s and boys’ prices, the U.S. Labor Department’s Consumer Price Index showed Thursday.
Apparel prices fell a seasonally adjusted 0.5 percent last month. Men’s apparel prices decreased 0.9 percent, while women’s prices remained unchanged from October. Boys’ apparel prices fell 2.6 percent and girls’ apparel prices declined 1 percent.
Within the women’s sector, prices for dresses fell 0.9 percent, while prices for suits and separates declined 0.6 percent. Prices for the combined underwear, nightwear, sportswear and accessories category were flat, while prices for outerwear rose 0.6 percent.
In men’s wear, prices for the combined suits, sport coats and outerwear category dropped 3.3 percent, as prices for furnishings fell 1.3 percent. The only sign of strength was in the pants and shorts category, which increased 1.2 percent.
The overall CPI rose 0.2 percent last month, driven primarily by rising oil prices, while core prices, excluding food and energy, increased 0.2 percent.
Michael Montgomery, U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight, said gas prices were up 2.7 percent in November, far off the pace in October, which saw a spike on gasoline prices of 7 percent.
“The core CPI showed gains in most of the usual suspects, with gains in medical-care service prices reviving and motor vehicle insurance costs climbing 1 percent,” Montgomery said.
He noted that the largest contribution to the core CPI increase is from the “chronic problem” category of shelter, which rose 0.3 percent and was 3.6 percent above last November.
“The prognosis for 2017 is for energy to switch from being a drag on consumer prices to being a positive contributor, food to move little, but core prices to gradually firm,” Montgomery said. “Core goods prices will be held in check in early 2017 by the strong dollar, but core services prices should step up the pace of gains as wages continue to firm, with a jobless rate below 5 percent.”
“That prognosis is probably no different than the Federal Reserve Board’s, is far from worrisome and should not lift inflation to the status of a problem in consumers’ eyes,” he added.
The Federal Reserve raised its target for the benchmark federal funds rate up a quarter point to 0.5 percent to 0.75 percent and indicated more rate hikes would come next year.