Apparel and footwear prices slowed in July, continuing to hinder increases in the overall CPI, and reversing the trend of the prior few months.
Overall inflation increased year-over-year by a less-than-expected 2 percent in the month, despite food and energy prices that remain relatively high. The increase was down slightly from June and was the lowest in three months, according to data just released by the U.S. Department of Commerce.
The index for apparel and footwear increased by only 0.3% compared to the same month last year, well below June’s 0.9% rise.
Apparel prices (excluding footwear) experienced a negligible 0.1% year-over-year increase, after a 1.4% gain in June and a 1.2% increase in May. Footwear prices rose by 0.9%, their biggest increase in 10 months.
Women’s apparel prices edged up by 1.2% in the month, their smallest increase in five months, while menswear prices remained flat compared to the same month last year.
The price index for infants’ and children’s increased for the fifth straight month, rising 1.6% in July, more than June’s 1.1% gain. This was due to a 2.8% increase in boys’ apparel prices.
Apparel prices continue to be pressured by a particularly intense summer clearance sale season, continuous everyday promotions at retail, and an expansion of the off-price and outlet store channels that are gaining share from conventional retail formats.