WASHINGTON — Inflationary pressures may be creeping into domestic apparel prices. Wholesale prices for domestically made women’s and girls’ apparel rose 0.1 percent in July compared with June, the Labor Department reported Tuesday in its Producer Price Index. Prices were down 0.4 percent compared with July of last year, however. The cost for all apparel rose 0.3 percent in July and 0.8 percent compared with the previous year. Prices for all U.S.-produced goods increased 1.2 percent, the seventh straight rise this year. The core PPI, which excludes food and energy, increased 0.7 percent in July. Compared with July 2007, the cost for all goods shot up 9.8 percent last month, the highest price increase in more than 26 years, said Charles McMillion, president and chief economist, MBG Information Services. The core prices were up 3.5 percent year-over-year. Most producers are facing weak demand and “brutal” pricing pressures, he said. “After months of surging energy and commodity prices, final goods producers threw in the towel on rising costs and pushed through unusually large price increases at midyear,” said Kenneth Beauchemin, U.S. economist, Global Insight. The PPI is not an indicator of broad apparel trends, since the majority of apparel sold in the U.S. is not manufactured domestically, but fluctuations are still notable. The cost of knit shirts and blouses, woven shirts and blouses and dresses were all flat in July compared with June. Compared with last year, dress prices were up 0.9 percent and woven shirts and blouses increased 1 percent. The cost of knit shirts and blouses slid 0.9 percent from last year. Tailored jackets and vests and jeans and slacks both saw prices advance 0.2 percent in July. Prices compared with the same period last year were up 1 percent for jackets and vests and were down 1.5 percent for jeans and slacks. Domestic prices for textile mill goods, mostly apparel fabric, increased 0.8 percent in July and 3.9 percent compared with last year. Synthetic fiber prices were up 1.5 percent in July and 3.2 percent from last year. Yarn prices were up 0.9 percent in July and 5.9 percent compared with a year ago. Greige fabric prices increased 0.5 percent in July and 2.2 percent in year-over-year comparisons. The price of finished fabrics was up 0.8 percent in July and 3.8 percent from the prior year.
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