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Inflationary Pressure on Apparel Prices Continued in June

With a surge in demand and pressures on the supply chain, retail apparel prices continued an inflationary push last month.

Retail apparel prices rose a seasonally adjusted 0.7 percent in June, after rising 1.2 percent in May, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported Tuesday in its Consumer Price Index (CPI).

The overall CPI increased a seasonally adjusted 0.9 percent in June after increasing 0.6 percent in May. This was the largest one-month change since June 2008 when the index rose 1.0 percent, BLS said. Over the last 12 months, the CPI was up an unadjusted 5.4 percent–the largest 12-month increase since a 5.4 percent hike for the period ending August 2008.

The core index, minus food and energy, rose 0.9 percent in June after increasing 0.7 percent in May. Apparel prices were up an unadjusted 4.9 percent from June 2020.

Women’s apparel prices jumped 1.6 percent last month, with increases in every category. Prices for dresses rose 5 percent compared to May, outerwear increased 2.1 percent, suits and separates were up 1.6 percent and the underwear, nightwear, swimwear and accessories group gained 1.1 percent.

Men’s wear prices fell 0.9 percent in June, with decreases in every sector except shirts and sweater, which ticked up 0.2 percent. Prices for pants and shorts declined 1.9 percent; suits, sports coats and outerwear fell 1.3 percent, and the underwear, nightwear, swimwear and accessories group decreased 1.2 percent.

Girls’ apparel prices were down 0.6 percent for the month, boys’ were up 1.1 percent and infants’ and toddlers’ clothing price increased 2.1 percent.

Prices for footwear rose 0.4 percent last month, with men’s up 0.4 percent, women’s rising 0.2 percent and boys’ and girls’ inching up 0.1 percent.

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Part of the overall price increase is the opening up of the economy and an upswing in consumer demand. Higher raw material costs are another factor.

U.S. spot cotton prices averaged 83.59 cents per pound for the week ended July 8, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That was up from 83.18 cents the prior week and from 59.91 cents a year earlier.

According to BLS, the Producer Price Index for U.S.-made synthetic fibers was up 0.3 percent in May compared to April, while prices for yarns and threads increased 1.9 percent and finished fabrics rose 1 percent.

The energy index, which is important for business operations and logistics, increased 1.5 percent in June, with the gasoline index rising 2.5 percent over the month.

The index for household furnishings and operations were among the few major component indexes that decreased in June. The overall CPI rose 5.4 percent for the 12 months ending June continuing an upward trend since January.

The core index was up 4.5 percent over the last 12 months, BLS reported, the largest 12-month increase since the period ending November 1991. The energy index rose 24.5 percent over the past 12 months.