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Retail Apparel Prices Rose in November, Breaking Two-Month Slide

Retail apparel prices rose a seasonally adjusted 0.9 percent in November after declining the previous two months, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported Thursday in its Consumer Price Index (CPI).

The increase was seen in all sectors except women’s apparel, which posted a 0.6 percent decline for the month. Within women’s, prices for dresses were up 3.1 percent and increased 1.2 percent for the underwear, nightwear, swimwear and accessories group, while outerwear cost 1.8 percent less and suits and separates prices declined 2.7 percent.

Men’s wear prices rose 2.1 percent, with increases of 3.7 percent in shirts and sweaters; 1.2 percent in suits, sport coats and outerwear, and 1.9 percent in pants and shorts. Bucking the trend was the underwear, nightwear, swimwear and accessories group, which saw prices drop 2.4 percent.

Girls’ apparel prices rose 2.7 percent in November, boy’s clothing cost 1.3 percent more, and infants’ and toddlers’ apparel increased 3.5 percent.

Footwear prices also rose in the month, up 1.4 percent on increases of 5.5 percent in boys’ and girls’ shoes, and 0.8 percent in women’s wear, tempered by a 1.1 percent dip in men’s apparel.

The pricing power demonstrated in the month could be attributed to a strengthening of demand–the National Retail Federation’s calculation of core retail sales showed October was up 0.2 percent seasonally adjusted from September–and solidifying raw materials costs.

Spot prices for U.S. cotton averaged 67.56 cents per pound for the week ended Dec. 3, according to the Department of Agriculture. The weekly average was down from 68.19 cents per pound the prior week, but up from 60.04 cents a year earlier. The producer price index for finished fabrics ticked up 0.1 percent in October from the previous month and were up 1.2 percent compared to October 2019, according to BLS.

The overall CPI increased 0.2 percent in November on a seasonally adjusted basis after going unchanged in October. Over the past 12 months, the CPI rose an unadjusted 1.2 percent.

The core index, excluding food and energy, also rose 0.2 percent in November. The energy index, important for company operations and transportation, rose for the sixth month in a row in November, increasing 0.4 percent.