By  on February 19, 2010

WASHINGTON — Wholesale prices for U.S.-made apparel declined 0.1 percent in January compared with December and were flat in yearly comparisons, the Labor Department said Thursday in its Producer Price Index.

Women’s domestic apparel prices declined 0.4 percent month-to-month and dropped 0.2 percent compared with a year earlier. Men’s apparel prices rose 0.5 percent in January and advanced 0.6 percent in 12-month comparisons.

Prices for all goods and services increased a seasonally adjusted 1.4 percent in January, driven primarily by rising gas prices. In December, prices rose 0.4 percent and in November prices were up 1.5 percent.

Brian Bethune, chief U.S. financial economist with IHS Global Insight, said price increases last month were “actually pretty tame given that January is a typical month to raise prices.”

The PPI for apparel is not a true indicator of industry price fluctuations because of the relatively small number of manufacturers operating in the U.S. The Consumer Price Index, due out today, includes imports and is considered a more accurate barometer of pricing trends.

Domestic prices for women’s knit shirts and blouses declined 3.3 percent in January and 3.4 percent from a year earlier. Woven shirts and blouses fell 0.4 percent month-to-month and 1.1 percent year-over-year. Prices for dresses rose 0.3 percent in January compared with December, but fell 0.3 percent year-over-year. Women’s tailored jacket and vest prices were up 0.3 percent in January and 0.2 percent from a year earlier. Women’s jeans and slacks declined 0.2 percent for the month, but rose 0.3 percent in 12-month comparisons.

Prices for men’s work clothing rose 1.2 percent in the month and 3 percent compared with a year earlier. Men’s knit shirts were flat month-to-month and declined 1.1 percent year-over-year. Men’s woven shirts dipped 0.3 percent compared with a month earlier and 0.1 percent compared with January 2009. Suit prices rose 0.3 percent in the month and 1.7 percent for the year.

Apparel fabric prices fell 0.1 percent in January and were down 1 percent in 12-month comparisons. Prices for goods manufactured at textile product mills, primarily home furnishing and industrial fabrics, declined 0.3 percent month-to-month, but rose 1.4 percent year-over-year.

Deeper in the pipeline, prices for synthetic fibers increased 0.3 percent in January but fell 0.2 percent compared with a year earlier. Yarn prices advanced 0.5 percent month-to-month and 2.8 percent year-over-year. Prices for greige fabrics rose 0.8 percent in January but were down 0.7 percent in the 12 months. Finished fabric prices dipped 0.1 percent from December and 1.5 percent compared with January 2009.

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