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Consumer Prices Stable in March, but Higher Than a Year Ago

Although relatively stable during the month, inflation edged higher in March compared to a year ago, lifted by increases in energy, shelter, transportation services and healthcare.

According to Consumer Price Index (CPI) data released last week by the U.S. Department of Commerce, prices for all goods and services rose by 2.4% (adjusted for seasonality) compared to the same month last year. Energy prices, which fell in the month, remain significantly higher than a year ago. The core inflation rate, which excludes food and energy, increased by 2 percent, less than overall inflation.

The apparel and footwear price index increased by 0.6%.

Apparel prices (excluding footwear) rose by 0.8 percent compared to March 2016, the third month in a row of relatively healthy increases. Footwear prices were basically flat.

Womenswear prices increased by 1.3% in the month, while menswear prices were flat.

Children’s apparel suffered a 3.6% price decline, hurt by continued downward pressure on girls’ and infant’s apparel prices and a dramatic shift toward the mass and other value-oriented channels.