Footwear Prices Rise in October, Deflation a Fear

WASHINGTON — Retail prices for footwear increased a seasonally adjusted 0.3 percent in October, the U.S. Labor Department said Wednesday in its Consumer Price Index report. Compared with the same period a year ago, prices rose 1.4 percent.

Apparel prices as a whole, including footwear, dropped 1 percent in October from September. The decline was the largest on record for October, driven primarily by a significant drop in women’s apparel prices of 2.5 percent. Prices, however, increased 0.3 percent year-over-year. Inflation predictions have given way to fears of deflation in the last couple months as the financial crisis took root.

Footwear prices bucked the overall pricing trends, rising in almost every category in monthly and yearly comparisons. Men’s footwear prices increased 1.2 percent in October and 2.6 percent year-over-year. Women’s footwear prices climbed 0.1 percent for the month, but slid 0.1 percent from a year earlier. Children’s footwear increased 0.3 percent in October and jumped 3.3 percent from October 2007.

Prices for all goods fell 1 percent, the highest one-month decline since the index started tracking prices in 1947. The decline followed flat results in September and a drop of 0.1 percent in August.

It’s been a volatile year for consumer prices. In July, the highest one-month increase in 26 years was reported. October prices were still 3.7 percent higher than the same period last year. The so-called core prices, which exclude the volatile food and energy sectors, dropped 0.1 percent for the month and increased 2.2 percent from October 2007.

“Consumer price inflation has suddenly screeched into reverse, as the recent abrupt slowdown in world economic growth has led to sharp declines in energy costs, while very weak domestic demand is putting downward pressure on retail prices in many key retail channels,” said Brian Bethune, chief U.S. financial economist at IHS Global Insight. Bethune specifically pointed to declines in apparel and lodging prices as indicative of weak demand.

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