Wholesale Apparel Prices Down 0.7% in September

Prices for all apparel dropped 0.2 percent in the month, but increased 0.9 percent compared to September 2007.

WASHINGTON — Wholesale prices for domestically manufactured women’s and girls’ apparel declined 0.7 percent in September from the previous month and were off 0.1 percent from a year earlier, the Labor Department said Wednesday in its Producer Price Index.

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Prices for all apparel dropped 0.2 percent in the month, but increased 0.9 percent compared to September 2007.

Prices for all U.S.-produced goods moderated in September, as well, falling a seasonally adjusted 0.4 percent. Prices dropped 0.9 percent in August after increasing 1.2 percent in July. The core PPI, excluding more volatile food and energy prices, increased 0.4 percent in September.

The overall index was driven down in part by the energy sector, where prices fell 2.9 percent.

“The weakening economy is dampening demand for all fuels,” said Patrick Newport, U.S. economist at Global Insight. “This is also helping to relax cost pressures and bringing producer prices down.”

The vast majority of apparel sold in the U.S. is imported, but price fluctuations in domestic prices are still notable. The Consumer Price Index, which tracks retail price changes, will be released Thursday.

Producer prices for women’s and girls’ knit shirts and blouses, and suits and pantsuits were flat compared with August, but declined 0.4 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively, compared with September 2007. Wholesale prices for woven shirts and blouses declined 5 percent from August, but increased 3.7 percent from a year earlier. Women’s tailored jackets and vests dropped 0.2 percent in monthly comparison and increased 0.8 percent year-over-year.

Wholesale prices for dresses advanced 0.2 percent in the month and 1.5 percent for the year. Prices for jeans and slacks were up 0.1 percent in the month, but dropped 1.1 percent in yearly comparisons.

September prices for apparel fabric, also called textile mill products, increased 1.1 percent from August and spiked 5.9 percent year-to-year. Textile product mill prices, primarily home furnishing and industrial fabric, increased 0.7 percent from August and climbed 3.5 percent from the prior year.

Deeper in the manufacturing pipeline, prices were also up across the board. Synthetic fiber prices climbed 3.7 percent from August and 7.4 percent from a year ago. Yarn costs were up 1.4 percent in the month and 8.6 percent for the year. Finished fabric prices gained 1 percent for the month and 6.1 percent from the prior year. Greige fabrics were flat in September, but increased 2.9 percent from September 2007.