The cost of a gallon of gas kept rising last year, but not at the torrid pace of 2010 and 2011. That helped keep inflation in check. Joe Raedle/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Sign of the times: Markdowns at a discount clothing store in New York City last month. Such stiff competition for consumers' dollars is helping to keep inflation in check. Spencer Platt/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Spencer Platt/Getty Images