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U.S.-Made Apparel Prices Fall in July

Prices for domestically manufactured apparel rise in year-to-year comparison.

WASHINGTON — Wholesale prices for U.S.-made apparel fell 0.2 percent in July compared with June, but rose 0.9 percent compared with a year earlier, the Labor Department said Tuesday in its Producer Price Index.

This story first appeared in the August 19, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Prices for domestically manufactured women’s and girls’ apparel declined 0.1 percent month-to-month, but rose 1.6 percent from July 2008. Men’s and boys’ apparel prices dropped 0.3 percent in July, and increased 1.2 percent compared with a year earlier.

Prices for all U.S.-made goods and services dropped more than expected in July, declining 0.9 percent from the prior month. Domestic wholesale prices had increased 1.8 percent in June and 0.2 percent in May. Compared with July 2008, prices were down 6.8 percent, the sharpest year-to-year decline since 1947.

The July PPI report showed a “symphony of lower prices, pointing to broad-based declines throughout the production pipeline,” said Brian Bethune, chief U.S. financial economist at IHS Global Insight.

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 for apparel, which measures all goods sold at retail, including imports, rose a seasonally adjusted 0.6 percent in July compared with June and 1.1 percent from a year earlier.

Wholesale prices for women’s and girls’ woven shirts and blouses, dresses, tailored jackets and vests and jeans and slacks were all flat in July compared with June. Year-over-year, woven shirts and blouses increased 0.9 percent and dresses were up 1.4 percent. Domestic prices for tailored jackets and vests were flat in 12-month comparisons. Jeans and slacks prices increased 0.4 percent in July compared with a year earlier. Women’s knit shirts and blouses saw prices drop 0.2 percent in July compared with June, and rise 0.5 percent compared with a year earlier.

Domestic prices for men’s and boys’ work clothing increased 1.9 percent month-to-month and 5.2 percent in 12-month comparisons. Prices for knit shirts declined 4.6 percent in July and 3.2 percent year-to-year. Men’s and boys’ woven shirts saw prices rise 0.2 percent month-to-month, while declining 1 percent year-over-year. Domestic prices for suits increased 0.1 percent in July compared with June and 4.4 percent from a year earlier.

Prices for apparel fabric, known as textile mill goods, declined 0.1 percent in July compared with June and 0.3 percent from July 2008. Textile product mills, which manufacture home furnishing fabrics, saw prices decline 0.8 percent month-to-month, but increase 0.5 percent in the year.

Deeper in the pipeline, prices for synthetic fibers declined 0.3 percent in July and 5.4 percent compared with a year earlier. Yarns rose 0.8 percent month-to-month, but dropped 4.4 percent year-to-year. Greige fabric prices fell 1.6 percent in July, while rising 1.9 percent in 12-month comparisons. Finished fabrics rose 0.3 percent in monthly comparisons and 1.1 percent from a year earlier.