Apparel retail prices fell for the third consecutive month in November, with children's apparel one of the worst hit categories, according to new figures. The findings are part of the Labor Department's review of the Consumer Price Index, which measures how much Americans pay for everything from furniture to medical care.
Overall, U.S. consumer prices remained flat in November from the prior month, but rose 1.2 percent in the year ended in November after a 1 percent year-over-year gain in October. Together, cheaper gasoline, new cars, and clothing kept the index unchanged, a sign that inflation is making scant progress toward the Federal Reserve's goal.
Although retail prices dropped for the month, last week the U.S. Commerce Department reported that retail sales rose 0.7 percent in November, the sharpest increase since June and slightly more than the 0.6 percent rise forecast by economists.
Steep holiday discounts are largely responsible for the drop in clothing costs, according to industry analysts. For apparel, prices on items sold at retail fell a seasonally adjusted 0.4 percent in November. Women's retail apparel prices rose 0.2 percent, while prices for men's apparel declined 1.5 percent. Girl's apparel prices saw a 3.2 percent decline, while boy's apparel prices saw a 0.8 percent gain.
A deeper dive within the women's category reveals that retail prices for outerwear fell 0.6 percent and prices for suits and separates dropped 0.5 percent. Categories that experienced price increases are dresses with a 2.4 percent rise, while prices for the broad category that includes underwear, nightwear, sportswear and accessories gained 1 percent.
In men's wear, summer items left over on the clearance rack led to a 7.3 percent drop in pants and shorts while furnishings fell 0.4 percent. Prices for the combined category of suits, sport coats and outerwear increased 1.7 percent, and shirts and sweaters rose 0.7 percent.
November Retail Sales Beat Estimates, Jump Most In 5 Months
U.S. Unemployment Rate Drops to 5-Year Low
Retailers Add 37,600 Jobs in October as Holiday Hiring Shifts into Full Gear
Retailers Add 15,200 Jobs in September; Holiday Concerns Persist
Amazon, Macy's Positive About Holiday Spending