Consumer spending on apparel and footwear increased by less than 0.8% in March, according to recently released U.S. government data. This is the tenth consecutive month of declining growth in the combined category, and sixth straight month of less than 1 percent gains.
Spending growth on apparel lagged far behind total consumer spending on goods and services, which grew by 4.45%.
Footwear spending increased by 1.4%, capping eight consecutive months of declining growth, while consumption of apparel rose by a paltry 0.28% in the month.
Stagnant-to-declining prices for apparel and footwear are partly responsible for the sluggish growth. Apparel prices rose by only 0.8% in March, and footwear prices remained virtually flat, compared to a 2.4% increase in overall inflation.
Another factor in the flat apparel spending is consumers’ flagging demand for clothing and shoes relative to other more experiential categories like travel and dining out, and non-discretionary expenditures like housing, education and health care.