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U.S.-Made Apparel Prices Flat in December

Wholesale prices for U.S.-made apparel were flat in December compared with November and rose 0.2 percent from a year earlier.

WASHINGTON — Wholesale prices for U.S.-made apparel were flat in December compared with November and rose 0.2 percent from a year earlier, the Labor Department said Wednesday in its Producer Price Index.

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Women’s domestic apparel prices declined 0.1 percent month-to-month, but were up 0.1 percent from December 2008. Men’s apparel prices were flat in December and increased 0.6 percent year-over-year.

Prices for all U.S.-made goods rose a seasonally adjusted 0.2 percent in December, driven by a rise in food prices.

“There’s still plenty of slack in the economy, and we’re a long way from seeing any revival of inflation in core finished goods,” said Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist for IHS Global Insight.

Charles McMillion, president and chief economist for MBG Information Services, said economic pressures including weak demand left most domestic manufacturers with no real pricing power. The PPI results were a mixed report “in a stuttering economy,” McMillion said.

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.

Domestic prices for women’s knit shirts and blouses, jeans and slacks, tailored jackets and vests, and dresses were all flat in December. Knit shirt and blouse prices were also flat year-over-year, while jeans and slacks increased 0.5 percent in the period. Tailored jacket and vest prices declined 0.1 percent compared with a year earlier, as dress prices fell 0.6 percent. Women’s woven shirts and blouses fell 0.2 percent in December and 2.3 percent year-to-year.

Prices for men’s work clothing, knit shirts and suits were flat in December, but advanced 3.6 percent, 0.3 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively, year-over-year. Prices for men’s woven shirts fell 0.7 percent month-to-month and 1.8 percent compared with a year earlier.

Apparel fabric prices rose 0.2 percent in December, but declined 1 percent compared with a year earlier. Prices for goods from textile product mills, primarily industrial and home furnishing fabrics, were flat month-to-month but advanced 2 percent from December 2008.

Deeper in the pipeline, synthetic fiber prices were flat in December compared with November, but dropped 5.3 percent from a year earlier. Yarn prices rose 1.6 percent month-to-month and 0.9 percent year-to-year. Greige fabric prices were flat in December and declined 1.4 percent year-over-year. Finished fabric prices dropped 0.4 percent month-to-month and 1 percent compared with a year earlier.