After dropping 3 percent in December, apparel prices continued their freefall in January, declining another 2.4% year-over-year, their third straight month of decline and second biggest drop in more than a decade, according to data released Thursday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Overall unadjusted inflation in the U.S. actually declined in the month for the first time since October 2009, edging down by 0.1% due primarily to sharply lower energy prices that more than compensated for a 3.2% rise in food prices compared to January of 2014. Taking food and energy out of the picture, the CPI rose by 1.6%, relatively unchanged from the past few months.
The index for apparel and footwear, by contrast, dropped by 1.4%, their third straight monthly decline and second biggest decrease for the combined segments in 11 years.
The drop in apparel prices more than made up for a 2.6% increase in footwear prices, their third biggest monthly increase in a year and a half.
Women’s apparel prices fell by 3.5% and men’s by 2.4%. The only segment to see increases was childrenswear, where prices edged up by 0.8%.
The declines aren’t surprising, given the fact that January is the end of the fiscal year for most apparel retailers, and tends to be characterized by sales and other promotions designed to clear out Fall and Winter inventory.