Skip to main content

Retail Apparel Prices Rise in April Along With Overall CPI

Retail apparel prices in the U.S. rose 0.3% in April after declining in March, as increases in women’s, girls’ and boys’ clothing prices outweighed a drop in men’s wear, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported Thursday in the Consumer Price Index.

Textile and apparel manufacturers have reported increases in raw material prices from cotton to synthetics, while the relatively weak dollar compared to currencies such as the euro makes the cost of imported merchandise more expensive.

The overall CPI for consumer goods increased 0.2% in April on a seasonally adjusted basis after falling 0.1% in March, and was up 2.5% from a year earlier. The indexes for gasoline and shelter were the largest factors in the increase, although the food index also increased, BLS noted.

The core index, minus the volatile food and energy sectors, increased 0.1% in April, with the index for household furnishings and operations rising 0.5%–the largest increase since April 2015, and the personal care index increasing 0.7% in the month.

Ken Matheny, executive director of U.S. economics at Macroeconomic Advisers by IHS Markit, said, “Although April’s increases in the overall and core CPI’s were smaller than expected, the 12-month measures indicate that consumer price inflation is close to the Fed’s objective.”

In apparel, prices had increased in the five months prior to the March dip and were 0.8% higher in April than a year earlier. Prices for women’s clothing were up 0.9% in April compared to March, led by a 4.5% hike in outerwear, a 2.9% gain in dresses and a 0.5% rise in suits and separates, while the broad categories of underwear, nightwear, sportswear and accessories had flat prices.

Men’s apparel prices fell 0.6% last month, as a 1 percent decline in pants and shorts and a 0.1% drop in furnishings outweighed a 0.7% increase in the suits, sport coats and outerwear group, and a 0.1% uptick in shirts and sweaters.

Boys’ apparel prices rose 1.3% in the month and girls’ clothing cost 3 percent more. Footwear prices fell 0.9% in the month, with women’s falling 2.5%, men’s declining 0.2% and boys’ and girls’ increasing 1.8%.

The energy index, which impacts the cost of goods because it cuts into operational budgets, rose 1.4% in April after falling 2.8 percent in March.