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April 13, 2022

EXCLUSIVE COMMENT: US March inflation figures reflect “record high” apparel prices

As the US Consumer Price Index reveals the March inflation figures, the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) tells Just Style exclusively "record high prices" on apparel and footwear are already "tripping up consumers" and need to be addressed as soon as possible.

By Laura Husband

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Consumer Price Index (CPI) for March reveals apparel’s annual inflation stands at 6.8% with an unadjusted percent change, which is more than the 6.6% it stood at last month, and the AAFA’s President Steve Lamar suggests this indicates the US needs to tackle the issues related to inflation urgently.

He says: “We need action to put the brakes on inflation. It’s long past time to use all the tools in the toolbox.”

The March figures show that on a seasonally adjusted basis apparel had an increase of 0.6%, which is marginally lower than its 0.7% increase in February. The results reported within the apparel and footwear sector itself, include men’s and boys’ apparel having an increase of 1.1% in March, compared to 0.4% in February, and women’s and girls apparel reporting a 0.4% increase in March which is lower than the 1.2% increase in February. Meanwhile, footwear had an increase of 0.1% in March compared to 1.3% in February.

Lamar points out: “The CPI report reflects the combination of high tariffs and epic freight costs that are now tripping up consumers with record high prices, especially when it comes to essential apparel and footwear.”

He adds: “The AAFA has been strongly advocating for improved oversight of the US Federal Maritime Commission, for swift passage of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act (OSRA 21), and for swift tariff relief.”

Apparel industry consultant Robert Antoshak warned last month that what he described as “dire” pre-war US apparel inflation figures could get worse and the report shows the overall consumer inflation index increased 1.2% in March on a seasonally adjusted basis after rising 0.8% in February.

Increases in the indexes for gasoline, shelter, and food were the largest contributors to the seasonally adjusted all items increase. The gasoline index rose 18.3% in March and accounted for over half of the all items monthly increase and other energy components also increased. While the food index rose 1.0% and the food at home index rose 1.5%.

The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.3% in March following a 0.5% increase the prior month. The shelter index was by far the biggest factor in the increase, with a broad set of other indexes also contributing, including those for airline fares, household furnishings and operations, medical care, and motor vehicle insurance.

The report highlights that the all items index continued to accelerate, rising 8.5% for the 12 months ending March, which is the largest 12-month increase since the period ending December 1981. The all items less food and energy index rose 6.5%, the largest 12-month change since the period ending August 1982. The energy index rose 32.0% over the last year, and the food index increased 8.8%, the largest 12-month increase since the period ending May 1981.

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