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Apparel Spending Slows to a Crawl in March

Consumer spending on apparel and footwear continued its slow steady slide in March, according to the most current data released by the Department of Commerce, rising by only 1.3% on a 12-month smoothed basis, its smallest monthly increase in almost four years, and much lower than rises in total goods and nondurables spending. In the past two years, the collective growth rate of apparel and footwear spending has slowed from 6 percent in March 2012 to where it is today, barely keeping up with inflation.

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Apparel spending increased a nominal 1 percent in March, the smallest increase since March 2010.

Spending on footwear, a category that enjoyed tremendous growth for years until it began to contract in 2013, has in the past two months picked up a bit, rising 2.2% in March on a 12-month smoothed basis.

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Women’s apparel spending had the best performance in the month, increasing by 1.35%, ahead of both menswear, on which spending rose a mere 0.8%, and children’s, where spending actually declined. 

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