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Online Prices Continue to Defy Inflation

Online prices in March fell 1.7 percent year-over-year (YoY), marking the seventh consecutive month of YoY price declines, according to a report released Monday by Adobe.

March online prices were largely unchanged compared with February, rising just 0.03 percent, according to Adobe Digital Price Index (DPI), which measures inflation online. The company said that over half of the categories that Adobe tracked (10 out of 18) saw prices drop in March compared with the previous month.

The YoY decline in prices in March was driven by steep drops in discretionary categories including electronics, which fell 12.9 percent from the same period in 2022, while in home goods, appliance prices were down 4.9 percent and home & garden products were also down 4.9 percent YoY.

However, consumers are still facing price increases for major budget necessities, including groceries, personal care and apparel, though the rate of increase continued to slow. Grocery prices spiked 10.3 percent YoY in March, down from February 2023’s 11.4 percent YoY increase. Personal care prices were up 4.4 percent YoY, compared with a 6.1 percent YoY increase in February 2023. And apparel prices rose 6.6 percent YoY, an uptick from February 2023’s 5.1 percent YoY increase.

The March consumer price index, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ measure for general inflation, is set to be released on April 12. Consumer prices rose 6% in February compared to last year, according to the most recent report. Meanwhile, footwear prices in February were up 0.8% over last year, marking the second slowest growth in 23 months. Prices for men’s footwear were down 0.2%, while children’s footwear prices dropped 1% over last year. Women’s footwear prices, on the other hand, rose 2.9%.

Despite any persistent inflation, the National Retail Federation forecast that retail sales will grow between 4 percent and 6 percent in 2023. In total, NRF projects that retail sales will reach between $5.13 trillion and $5.23 trillion this year.