PRICE DROP LESSENS FOR WOMEN’S APPAREL
Byline: Kristi Ellis
WASHINGTON — Retail prices of women’s apparel declined a seasonally adjusted 0.3 percent in June against May following plummeting price drops of 1.3 percent and 0.9 percent in April and May, respectively, the Labor Department reported Wednesday in its Consumer Price Index.
Compared to June 2000, women’s apparel prices dropped 0.9 percent, marking the second straight year-over-year decrease.
“We feel that spring-summer sales occurred earlier this year,” said a senior economist for apparel at Labor. “Had they not occurred to the extent that they did so early, we could have seen bigger declines in apparel prices.”
Charles B. McMillion, chief economist of MGB Information Services, attributed the declines in apparel retail prices to imports.
“Today’s figures for apparel again underscore the unprecedented crisis of deflationary pricing caused by a flood of cut-rate imports, global overcapacity and weakening global demand,” said McMillion. “Apparel and textile firms are clearly facing major and long-term damage from imports and need urgent relief.”
In the overall economy, inflation was once again moderate, as prices for all retail goods last month rose 0.2 percent, reflecting a downturn in the energy index that was partially offset by larger increases in the food index.
“Last year’s consumer spending couldn’t be sustained this year,” said Michael J. Donnelly, senior economist at the WEFA Group, adding that it was close to an all-time high last year. “This year, it will be half of that, so it’s not surprising with a slump in demand, we will see a large slump in prices.”
He said he expects a “soft pricing atmosphere this year.”
Meanwhile, retail prices for all apparel in June declined 0.3 percent against May and 1.6 percent against year-ago levels. Girls’ apparel prices dropped 1.6 percent in June and plunged 4.0 percent over the year. Retail prices for men’s wear fell 0.7 percent in June and 2.9 percent against year-ago levels.
In the categories of women’s apparel tracked by Labor, prices for dresses reversed and posted an uptick of 0.9 percent in June against May, but plunged 5.0 percent against June 2000.
Suit and separates prices, which are not seasonally adjusted, dropped 4.2 percent for the month and 1.0 percent against year-ago levels, as prices for underwear, nightwear, sportswear and accessories, also not seasonally adjusted, dropped 2.2 percent in June but rose 1.7 percent against June 2000. Outerwear prices were down 2.1 percent in June and another 4.1 percent against year-ago levels.