U.S. Domestic, Wholesale Prices Up in Feb.

Wholesale prices for apparel made in the U.S. increased 0.7 percent in February.

WASHINGTON — Wholesale prices for apparel made in the U.S. increased 0.7 percent in February from the previous month and rose 1.9 percent in year-to-year comparisons, the Labor Department said Tuesday.

This story first appeared in the March 18, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Women’s and girls’ domestic apparel prices rose 1.5 percent in February and 2.3 percent year-over-year, according to the Producer Price Index. Prices for men’s and boys’ apparel were up 0.2 percent month-to-month and 2.1 percent from February 2008.

Prices for all goods manufactured in the U.S. advanced a seasonally adjusted 0.1 percent last month. In January, prices increased 0.8 percent and in December they declined 1.9 percent.

The price boosts lessened some deflationary concerns, said Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist for IHS Global Insight.

“Fears of deflation have eased, partly on a bottoming in commodity prices and partly because core PPI inflation has remained elevated,” he said.

Increases in consumer goods prices, excluding food and energy, could also indicate some confidence among producers that customer demand will be resilient, he said.

Wholesale prices for women’s and girls’ knit shirts and blouses declined 0.3 percent and increased 2.5 percent from a year earlier. Woven shirts and blouses fell 0.4 percent, but were up 3.3 percent year-to-year. Prices for dresses and tailored jackets were flat, but increased 2.4 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively, in 12-month comparisons. Jeans and slacks advanced 1.5 percent for the month and 0.3 percent for the year.

Producer prices for men’s work clothing, excluding work shirts, increased 0.3 percent in February and 2.1 percent in 12-month comparisons. Knit shirt prices were flat, but gained 0.7 percent from February 2008. Woven shirt prices increased 1.8 percent and 4.7 percent year-over-year. Suit prices were up 1.2 percent from the previous month and 4.3 percent from a year earlier.

February prices for textile mill products, primarily apparel fabric, declined 0.8 percent in February, but increased 2.4 percent from a year earlier.