July 31, 2007
Prices of apparel (clothing, footwear, watches, and jewelry) rose 0.9 percent in 2006, following a 1.1-percent decrease in 2005.
The 0.9-percent increase was the first in this index since 1997.
Apparel retailers have had a difficult decade. Consumers increasingly have been purchasing more electronics items, leaving less disposable income for clothing and other apparel. Intense competition from discount apparel stores has resulted in closures and consolidation within the industry.
The lifting of Chinese import restrictions has provided the United States with a source of relatively inexpensive clothing, and Chinese clothing has been increasing its share of the apparel market.
These data are from the BLS Consumer Price Index program. Annual percent changes are December-to-December changes. For additional information on consumer price changes in 2006, see "Consumer prices rose less in 2006 than in 2005," by Todd Wilson, Monthly Labor Review Online, May 2007.