Back-to-school promotions helped push apparel into deflationary territory in August, though footwear managed to turn in an average price increase, according to data just released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Overall unadjusted inflation increased year-over-year by 1.7% in the month, its smallest rise in five months, as lower energy prices more than made up for stubbornly high food prices.
The index for apparel and footwear was flat compared to the same month last year, slightly below July’s 0.3% rise.
Apparel prices (excluding footwear) suffered a slight decline of 0.4% year-over-year, after a negligible uptick in July and a 1.4% gain in June. Footwear prices rose by 1.2%, their biggest increase in 11 months.
The decline was driven by a 1.5% fall in menswear prices. Women’s apparel prices edged up by 1.1% in the month, their smallest increase in six months.
The price index for infants’ and children’s increased for the sixth straight month, rising 1.8% in August, more than June’s 1.1% gain. Both boys’ and girls’ apparel declined, however.
Apparel prices continue to be pressured by a particularly intense promotional environment and an expansion of the off-price and outlet store channels that are gaining share from conventional retail formats.