By  on August 20, 2008

WASHINGTON — Inflationary pressures may be creeping into domestic apparel prices. Wholesale prices for domestically made men’s and boys’ apparel rose 0.3 percent in July compared to June, the Labor Department said Tuesday in its Producer Price Index.

Prices were up 1.4 percent compared to July of last year.

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 increase. The core PPI, which excludes food and energy, increased 0.7 percent in July.

Compared to July 2007 the cost for all goods shot up 9.8 percent in July, 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 mid-year,” said Kenneth Beauchemin, U.S. economist, Global Insight.

The PPI is not an indicator of broad apparel trends, since the vast majority of apparel sold in the U.S. is not manufactured domestically, but fluctuations are still notable. The Consumer Price Index, which tracks retail prices for consumer goods, also showed signs of inflationary pressures, women’s apparel prices at retail increased 2.1 percent in July.

July prices for work shirts, knit shirts, suits and tailored sport coats and vests were flat in July. Compared to last year prices for work shirts and knit shirts increased 0.3 percent. Suit prices were up 1.5 percent from last year and sport coat and vest costs grew 3.1 percent. Workwear costs increased 0.5 percent in July and 1.2 percent from last year. Woven shirt prices climbed 0.2 percent in July and spiked 3.2 percent versus last year.

Domestic prices for textile mill goods, mostly apparel fabric, increased 0.8 percent in July and 3.9 percent compared to last year. Textile product mills, which produce textiles for home furnishings, increased prices 0.8 percent in July and 2 percent from last year.

Synthetic fiber costs 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 to a year ago. Gray 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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