WASHINGTON — Wholesale prices for domestically produced apparel and textiles fell 0.1 percent in August, as manufacturers’ pricing power weakened after showing signs of stabilizing over the last few months, according to the Labor Department’s Producer Price Index released Friday.
Prices for U.S.-made women’s and girls’ apparel showed the only strength with a 0.2 percent increase in August, as men’s and boys’ prices fell 0.4 percent. U.S.-produced textile prices declined 0.1 percent after posting four consecutive months of increases and returned to a longer-range period of price drops.
U.S.-made apparel and textile prices have been falling for years because of import pressures. The Labor Department’s recent overhaul of the PPI does not provide year-over-year comparisons because many of the textile and apparel categories were reclassified.
“The period of surprising stability and even growth for the industry earlier this year may be coming to an end,’’ said Charles McMillion, president and chief economist at MBG Information Services. “Production and price data seem to be coming back to where I expected them to be all along — back to the deflationary pattern of cutting prices. Producers have no pricing power in the face of cutthroat prices from import competition, and also now [with] the weakening domestic demand.”
In the overall economy, prices for all finished goods in August fell 0.1 percent as the cost of gasoline decreased and prices for food and autos fell, as well.
Among the categories of women’s and girls’ apparel cut and sewn in the U.S. and showing any price changes were knit shirts and blouses, up 0.1 percent; misses’ and junior dresses, a 0.3 percent gain; underwear, a 0.5 percent boost, and bras, which were up 1.9 percent. Wholesale prices for coats and capes, junior skirts, tailored jackets and vests, jeans and slacks and sweaters remained flat.
In another category based on apparel made in knitting mills, prices fell 0.8 percent. Prices for knit shirts and underwear and nightwear remained flat, while prices for pantyhose and tights declined 0.3 percent.
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