7 Things That Got Cheaper Last Year

Women using a smartphone
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What goes up must come down, right? For some prices, yes — but not all.

Money Talks News analyzed the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest Consumer Price Index data, which is for December, to find out which things actually cost less going into 2021 than they did one year prior.

Overall, the price of all things rose overall by 1.4% between December 2019 and December 2020, according to the BLS.

So, rejoice at those products that cost a bit less than they once did. Click through the slideshow to see all the products with prices that were at least around 10% lower going into this year than they were going into 2020.

7. Women’s dresses

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Price decline from December 2019 to December 2020: 11.2%

As a whole, the price of apparel fell 3.9% last year, but some types of clothing saw much steeper drops. For example, women’s apparel fell 7.7%, while men’s apparel fell 2.6%

Of all the types of women’s clothing included in the Consumer Price Index, dresses saw the biggest drop in price between December 2019 and December 2020, at 11.2%.

Many of the stores where women bought dresses also tumbled last year, with Ann Taylor and New York & Co. among the clothing retailers we cited in “15 Major Companies That Filed for Bankruptcy Due to the Pandemic.”

6. Men’s suits, sport coats and outerwear

New York City
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Price decline from December 2019 to December 2020: 13.4%

Of all the types of men’s clothing included in the Consumer Price Index, the category that includes men’s suits, sport coats and outerwear easily saw the steepest drop.

Of course, 2020 dealt quite the blow to the formal business attire industry in particular. Men’s Wearhouse and Brooks Brothers were among the many retailers that filed for bankruptcy protection as stores shuttered and scores of employees started working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic.

5. Gasoline

A couple pumps gas at the gas station
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Price decline from December 2019 to December 2020: 15.2% (for all types of gasoline collectively)

Gas prices fell dramatically in 2020, as Americans spent more time at home due to stay-at-home orders and their own desire to avoid the coronavirus. In fact, before March was up, 25 states had seen their average gas prices drop below $2 a gallon.

All three types of gasoline included in the Consumer Price Index fell in price last year — after seeing a 7.9% increase the prior year — according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Regular gas saw the steepest drop:

  • Unleaded regular (meaning gas with an octane rating of at least 85 but less than 88): 15.6% price decline
  • Unleaded midgrade (octane rating of at least 88 but no more than 90): 13.1% price decline
  • Unleaded premium (octane rating of more than 90): 12.9% price decline

4. Telephone hardware, calculators and other consumer information items

woman talking on a cellphone
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Price decline from December 2019 to December 2020: 16.3%

Consumers are enjoying a drop in costs in this category.

Shopping for the latest deals on smartphones? Start by checking out “20 Cellphone Plans That Cost $21 or Less.”

3. Other motor fuels

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Price decline from December 2019 to December 2020: 17.6%

Gasoline isn’t the only type of motor fuel that fell on the Consumer Price Index last year. A category called “other motor fuels” saw an even steeper price drop than gasoline.

As the Bureau of Labor Statistics defines it, this category includes “automotive diesel fuel and alternative motor fuels such as propane, natural gas, kerosene, alcohol, and electricity that is sold for use in consumer automobiles.”

2. Airline fares

Airplane flight attendant
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Price decline from December 2019 to December 2020: 18.4%

While 2020 was a tough year for the travel industry in general due to the pandemic, consumers saw a particularly big effect on the cost of airfare, which fell by 18.4% — more than almost any other type of expenditure included in the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index.

1. Non-motor fuel oil

Heating oil is delivered to a home
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Price decline from December 2019 to December 2020: 20%

Residential fuel oil prices saw the steepest decline last year on the Consumer Price Index. This category includes fuel oil used for heating, cooling, lighting, cooking and other household equipment. However, it excludes propane, kerosene and firewood, which collectively saw a price decline of 2% in 2020.

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