Byline: Joanna Ramey

WASHINGTON--Wholesale prices of domestically produced women's apparel in August remained unchanged against July, the Labor Department reported Tuesday, showing inflation continues to be kept at bay despite rising raw material costs facing textile mills.
Compared to August 1994, women's apparel prices last month increased 0.2 percent, according to Labor's monthly Producer Price Index. By contrast, wholesale prices for all finished goods for the month declined 0.1 percent and over the year increased 1.3 percent.
Apparel manufacturers continue to resist any meaningful increase in fabric prices from textile makers affected by high raw material costs, said David Link, chief economist, American Textile Manufacturers Institute.
Textile prices increased 0.2 percent in August against July and were up 2.4 percent over the year. As prices for raw materials continue to climb, manufacturers of the finished fabric continue to absorb these added costs, Link said. He pointed out that staple, tow and fiberfill prices over the year have increased 5.2 percent, but finished fabric prices have increased only 2.8 percent.
"Retail sales for apparel just haven't caught fire, which makes retailers hold the line on prices and that pushes price pressures back down the pipeline," Link said. "The textile mills are getting squeezed between their suppliers and their apparel customer."
Meanwhile, the categories of women's apparel with price swings included outerwear, down 0.3 percent for the month and up 6.7 percent from August 1994; dresses, down 0.9 percent in August and down 2.9 percent over the year; and blouses, down 0.1 percent last month and up 3.3 percent during the last 12 months. Knit outerwear and sports shirt prices increased 0.1 percent in August and were up 3.2 percent over the year, as prices for jeans and slacks dipped 0.6 percent for the month and also for the 12 months.
--Fairchild News Service

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