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Apparel Spending Outpaces Total Personal Consumption Growth in the US

Though total consumer spending had its smallest increase in 14 months, apparel and footwear spending has picked up a bit, helped by seasonable spring weather and an improving job market.

According to the most recent data released by the Commerce Department, personal consumption expenditures on apparel increased in May by 2.7% on a 12-month smoothed basis, slightly ahead of April’s pace.

Spending on footwear slightly beat that of apparel, rising by 2.9% in the month.


Women’s and girls’ apparel were the big winners, up 3.6% in the month, making it the fastest growing segment for the twenty-eighth straight month. Men’s and boy’s apparel spending rose by 2.6%, while that of children’s and infants’ apparel expenditures jumped by almost 2.7%.


Despite the temporary pickup, the share of total consumer spending enjoyed by apparel continues to fall to historically low levels. In May, the apparel and footwear sectors’ collective “share of wallet” fell to near-record lows as low consumer prices and intense competition continued to dog the sector.