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Apparel Prices Stabilize in May, but Women’s Wear Still Weak

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After dropping in April for the first time in two years, apparel prices stabilized in May, according to consumer price index data released today by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Overall inflation picked up a bit since last month, impacted by a rise in housing costs that was partially offset by declines in prices of gasoline and food consumed at home. The May consumer price index rose by 1.4%. The core rate, which excludes food and energy, rose by 1.7%.

Apparel and footwear prices rose by a mere .2% compared to May 2012, well below the overall inflation rate, and their lowest monthly increase in two years.

 Footwear prices jumped 3% in May compared to a year ago, its lowest increase in nine months but still well above that of clothing. Women’s footwear had the biggest increase, at up 4.2%.

The apparel price index rose by .5%, after dropping last month.

 Prices for infants’ and children’s apparel fell by an average of 2.1%, with girl’s apparel prices sliding 6.6%. Womenswear prices dropped 1.2%, as continued oversupply of apparel intersects with a consumer relentlessly in search of bargains.

Menswear prices rose by an average of 3.3%, helped by younger fashion-conscious men who are snapping up premium-priced sportswear in bright colors and tailored pieces in newer slim silhouettes.

Government CPI data takes into account published sale prices, but not coupons that discount entire transactions, or rebates on credit cards, which are becoming increasingly common and which essentially further decrease the ultimate price paid for an item.

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