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Apparel Inventories Up, Production Still Dropping

WASHINGTON -- Apparel and accessories store inventories have been growing, while apparel production continues to fall, according to latest government statistics.<BR><BR>"People are being very cautious about buying apparel, and I think firms are...

WASHINGTON — Apparel and accessories store inventories have been growing, while apparel production continues to fall, according to latest government statistics.

“People are being very cautious about buying apparel, and I think firms are overstocked,” said Michael Evans, consulting economist to the American Production and Inventory Control Society, a Washington-based research organization.

The Commerce Department reported Friday that apparel and accessories store inventories rose a seasonally adjusted 0.7 percent in November against October, hitting $23 billion. Compared with November 1992, inventories were up 7.4 percent.

By contrast, sales at apparel specialty stores rose only about 2 percent over the 12-month period.

The length of time it takes to sell off inventory went up in November, inching to an average of 2.56 months from 2.55 months in October, seasonally adjusted. That compares with an average turnover rate of 2.4 months in November 1992.

The Federal Reserve, meanwhile, said domestic apparel production fell 0.4 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis in December, to 89.7 on a 1987 benchmark of 100. Apparel production dropped 3.2 percent, compared with December 1992.

Textile production, meanwhile, increased 0.4 percent in December over November, hitting 106.8 on the 1987 baseline. Production of textiles grew 0.7 percent between December 1992 and December 1993, according to the Federal Reserve.

Industrial production among all sectors increased 0.7 percent in December against November and 4.6 percent against December 1992. Production of durable goods such as cars and furniture rose 8.8 percent from December to December, while all nondurables increased only 1.3 percent during that period.

Inventories among all retailers rose 1.4 percent in November against October and 8.1 percent over November 1992, Commerce reported. The highest levels of inventory accumulation were found in sectors that are selling very well right now; furniture stores, for example, reported an 18 percent increase against November 1992.