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Men’s, Boy’s Apparel Prices Flat in March

Wholesale apparel prices of men’s and boys’ apparel in April were flat compared to March.

WASHINGTON – Wholesale apparel prices of men’s and boys’ apparel in April were flat compared to March and increased 0.8 percent from the same period last year, the Labor Department said Tuesday in its Producer Price Index.

Whole prices for all apparel, including women’s and girls’, rose 0.1 percent from March and 0.6 percent from April of last year. The prices of all finished goods rose a seasonally adjusted 0.2 percent in April after rising 1.1 percent in March and 0.3 percent in February. Core producer prices were up 0.4 percent in April, excluding food and energy.

Consensus estimates prior to the Labor Department’s release predicted a 0.4 percent increase in producer prices and a 0.2 percent increase in core prices.

The moderate 0.2 percent gain was tempered by flat food prices and a drop in seasonally adjusted gas prices, said Brian Bethune, chief U.S. financial economist for Global Insight. Real gas prices continued to rise, but due to a shift in seasonal factors the gas prices as they are calculated in the PPI dropped. Outside of that most producer prices bounced up.

The PPI figures are not a broad indicator of pricing trends since the vast majority of apparel sold in the U.S. is imported.

Wholesale prices for men’s and junior boys’ work shirts increased 2.7 percent from March and 2.6 percent from April 2007. Wholesale prices for knit shirts, woven shirts and suits were flat in April compared to March, but increased 1.2, 4.1 and 0.1 percent respectively year-over-year. Work apparel prices declined 0.5 percent from March and 0.1 percent from the same period last year.

Prices for textile mill goods, which consisted mostly of apparel fabric, saw monthly and year-over-year increases of 0.5 and 3.2 percent respectively. Textile product mill prices, primarily home furnishing and industrial fabric, dropped 0.1 percent in April versus March and rose 2 percent from the same period last year.

Wholesale yarn prices rose 1.5 percent in April from March and 6.8 percent compared to a year ago. Greige fabric prices increased 0.1 percent in April from March and 2.2 percent from April 2007. Finished fabric prices rose 0.2 from March and 2 percent from the same period a year ago. Synthetic fiber prices month-to-month and year-over-year prices increased 0.5 percent.