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Womenswear Buoys Apparel Prices in December

The consumer price index (CPI) in December had its biggest increase in four months, according to data just released by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Prices for all goods and services rose by 1.5% (unadjusted for seasonality) compared to the same month in 2012, with the core rate of inflation, which takes out food and energy price moves, up 1.7%.

The index for apparel and footwear inched up by 0.6%, reversing its decline of the prior two months.

Apparel prices increased by 1%, their biggest year-on-year gain in four months. The increase was due to a rise in womenswear prices, which spiked 3.2% in the month, their biggest monthly increase in a year and a half. Over the past several months the women’s apparel market has been impacted by significant price volatility.

Government consumer price indices are based on ticketed and sale prices of products, but do not reflect the impact of other promotional discounts such as Buy One Get One, loyalty point redemption or other transaction-based discounts.

Menswear prices were up by only.7%.

Prices for infants’ and children’s apparel fell by 1.7%, with girlswear prices sliding the most, at 5.1%. Boys’ apparel prices increased 1.6%. A glut of tween girls’ clothing at department, discount and specialty stores has been putting downward pressure on prices.