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US Retail Apparel Prices Jumped 2.2% to Get the Year Going

U.S. retail apparel prices increased a seasonally adjusted 2.2 percent in January, the third consecutive monthly gain, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported Wednesday in its Consumer Price Index (CPI) report.

The price hike was broad-based, with a rise in all sectors. Children’s wear led the way, with price increases of 6.2 percent in girls’ apparel and 3.4 percent in boys’ clothing.

Women’s apparel prices were up 2.4 percent in the month, topped by a 5.5 percent hike in suits and separates, followed by a 2.1 percent increase in outerwear and a 0.2 percent rise in the underwear, nightwear, swimwear and accessories group. Bucking the trend was dresses, with a 1.3 percent price decline.

Men’s apparel prices rose 1.1 percent last month, with a 5.3 percent gain in pants and shorts pushed down by smaller increases of 0.8 percent in shirts and sweaters and 0.3 percent in the underwear, nightwear, swimwear and accessories group, and a 0.8 percent decline in suits, sport coats and outerwear. Prices for infants’ and toddlers’ apparel were up 0.5 percent.

The apparel price increases can likely be traced back along the raw materials supply chain. U.S. spot cotton prices averaged 77.40 cents per pound for the week, up from 77.35 cents the prior week and from 62.97 reported the corresponding period a year earlier, according to the Department of Agriculture.

Last month, BLS reported the synthetic fiber producer price index rose 1.3 percent, with prices of U.S.-made fabrics, yarns and thread also inching up.

The overall CPI increased 0.3 percent in January on a seasonally adjusted basis, BLS reported Wednesday. Over the past 12 months, CPI was up an unadjusted 1.4 percent.

The core index, excluding the volatile food and energy sectors, was unchanged in January. The core CPI also rose 1.4 percent in the year.

The energy index, which is important for business operations such as manufacturing and logistics, increased 3.5 percent in January. The gasoline index was the dominant factor, rising 7.4 percent over the month. The fuel oil index also rose in January, increasing 5.4 percent. However, other energy component indexes declined–the index for electricity dipped 0.2 percent over the month and the index for natural gas fell 0.4 percent.