WASHINGTON — Wholesale prices for domestically produced women’s and girls’ apparel, bucking an overall trend, slid 0.1 percent last month compared with February and fell 0.2 percent from a year ago, the Labor Department said Tuesday in its Producer Price Index.
Wholesale prices for all apparel, including men’s and boys’, rose 0.2 percent from February and 0.6 percent from March of last year. Prices for all U.S.-made goods climbed a seasonally adjusted 1.1 percent in March. The core PPI, excluding the volatile food and energy sectors, increased 0.2 percent in March after an uptick of 0.5 percent in February.
“The deceleration in core producer inflation is a positive development,” Kenneth Beauchemin, U.S. economist for Global Insight, wrote in an analysis. “The core rate, however, masks the current environment’s significant inflation risk, plainly evident in today’s report: sharply rising commodity prices.”
The PPI is not a broad indicator of apparel price trends, since more than 90 percent of clothing sold in the U.S. is imported, but notable price fluctuations in the category were evident.
Wholesale prices for women’s and girls’ knit shirts and blouses, suits and pantsuits, tailored jackets and vests and jeans and slacks were all flat for the month. But in year-over-year comparisons, prices for women’s and girls’ suits and pantsuits rose 1.5 percent, dresses increased 0.7 percent, woven shirts and blouses were up 0.5 percent and knit shirts and blouses climbed 0.3 percent. Jeans and slacks prices dropped 0.1 percent.
Prices for textile mill products, primarily apparel fabrics, decreased 0.5 percent in March versus the previous month, but rose 2.4 percent compared with the same period last year. Textile product mills, mainly industrial and home furnishings fabrics, saw monthly and year-over-year price increases of 0.6 and 2.1 percent, respectively.
Yarn prices increased 0.1 percent for the month and jumped 5.5 percent versus a year ago. Wholesale prices for synthetic fibers dropped 0.3 percent, but rose 0.4 percent from March 2007. Greige fabric prices declined 0.5 percent, and rose 2.2 percent compared with a year ago. Wholesale prices for finished fabrics dropped 0.7 percent, but increased 1.3 percent from a year earlier.