By  on September 12, 2008

WASHINGTON — Wholesale prices for domestically manufactured women’s and girls’ apparel increased 0.9 percent in August from the previous month and grew 0.5 percent compared with last year, the Labor Department said Friday in its Producer Price Index.

Prices for all apparel advanced 0.4 percent from July and 1.2 percent from August 2007.

Inflationary worries eased slightly, as prices for all U.S.-produced goods declined a seasonally adjusted 0.9 percent for the month. The decrease followed gains of 1.2 percent in July and 1.8 percent in June. The core PPI, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, was up 0.2 percent in August after advancing 0.7 percent in July.

The overall drop in prices for domestically manufactured goods was driven by falling energy prices, economists said.
“The mid-July break in the oil and natural gas price wave delivered the first monthly decline in the producer price index since April,” said Kenneth Beauchemin, U.S. economist at Global Insight.

The PPI is not an indicator of broader apparel trends given the vast majority of clothing sold in the U.S. is imported, but price fluctuations are still notable. The Consumer Price Index, which indicates increases in retail prices, will be released on Tuesday.

Wholesale prices for women’s and girls’ woven shirts and blouses spiked 8.1 percent from July and 9.2 percent from August 2007, the largest category increases for the month. Producer prices for knit shirts and blouses increased 0.6 percent from July, but fell 0.4 percent compared with a year earlier.

Dress prices were up 0.3 percent for the month and 1.2 percent for the year. Tailored jacket and vest prices were flat from July and up 1 percent from last year. Jeans and slacks advanced 0.2 percent from July and declined 1.3 percent from last year.

August prices for apparel fabrics, also known as textile mill products, increased 1.2 percent from July and 4.9 percent year-to-year. Prices in the textile product mill category, made up mainly of industrial and home furnishings fabrics, advanced 0.9 percent from July and 3 percent from last year.

Inflationary pressures continued to impact products deeper in the manufacturing pipeline, as well. Synthetic fiber prices were up 1.1 percent from July and 3.4 percent year-to-year. Yarn prices increased 0.5 percent compared with July and 6.4 percent from last year. Greige fabric prices advanced 1.7 percent for the month and 3.5 percent from last year. Costs for finished fabrics increased 1.3 percent compared with July and 5 percent compared with August 2007.

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