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Apparel Prices Plunge in September, Driven by Menswear Decline

Consumer costs in the United States rose slightly in September, but apparel prices fell for the first time since June.

The U.S. Labor Department’s latest Consumer Price Index (CPI), released Tuesday, inched up 0.3% last month, driven by increases in the cost of gasoline and rent. Core CPI, which is based on all items excluding food and fuel, slowed from August’s 0.3% growth to increase 0.1% and was up 2.2% for the 12 months ended Sept. 30.

Apparel prices dropped 0.7% in September, pushing the year-over-year change to a decline of 0.1%. The last time apparel prices decreased was in June, by 0.4%, though they stayed the same in July and picked up 0.2% in August.

By category, men’s apparel prices plunged 1.3% in September, due to pants, shorts, shirts and sweaters. On a year-over-year basis, they’re down 1.5%. Prices for women’s clothing decreased 0.2% last month—with declines in all categories except intimates, sleep and sportswear—and they’re down 0.4% versus last year.

Apparel Prices September 2016
Photo: U.S. Labor Department Consumer Price Index September 2016

By comparison, boys’ apparel rose 1.2% in September (and by 4.4% year-over-year), while girlswear increased 1.1% on a monthly basis and the category is up 2 percent compared with the same time a year ago. Prices for infants’ and toddlers’ apparel, however, declined 1.2% last month. On a year-over-year basis, prices are down 6.7%.