WASHINGTON — Wholesale prices on U.S.-made apparel increased modestly in June, while textile apparel fabric prices fell, as pricing pressure from the high cost of cotton abated somewhat, the U.S. Labor Department’s Producer Price Index showed Thursday.
Wholesale prices for domestically produced apparel rose 0.2 percent in June compared with May and were up 2.6 percent against a year earlier. Prices for women’s apparel were flat in June, but were up 1.3 percent year-over-year, while domestically produced men’s apparel prices rose 0.7 percent last month and were up 3.2 percent against a year earlier.
“Since their most recent peak in February, raw cotton prices have fallen 14.1 percent,” said Gregory Daco, principal U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight. “That is a substantial decline that is bound to help apparel producers.”
The overall PPI fell 0.4 percent in June, because of a 2.8 percent plunge in energy prices. The core PPI index, minus the volatile food and energy sectors, edged up 0.3 percent in June.
The PPI for apparel is not considered an important indicator, since the vast majority of clothes sold at retail are imported, although a trend toward more U.S. manufacturing seems to be in the works. The Consumer Price Index, which measures all goods, is looked at by economists as the key barometer of clothing prices and it will be released today.
Three categories drove the increase within the women’s category. Wholesale prices for jeans and slacks rose 0.2 percent in June, while prices for outerwear increased 0.5 percent and prices for underwear were up 0.6 percent last month. All other women’s categories were flat.
Within the men’s category, prices for work clothing, excluding work shirts, rose 1.2 percent and prices for knit shirts rose 3.9 percent in June.
Deeper in the supply chain, high cotton prices were evident. Textile mill apparel fabric prices fell 0.2 percent in June, but were up 13.6 percent against June 2010. Domestically produced yarn prices fell 2.1 percent in June compared with May, but were up 25.7 percent against a year earlier. Wholesale prices for carded cotton yarns were down 6 percent in June, but soared 67.8 percent against June 2010, while combed cotton yarns fell 9.4 percent in June but were up 71.8 percent year-over-year. Prices for broad wovens fell 2.3 percent in June but were 18 percent higher against a year earlier, while prices for finished fabrics fell 0.3 percent last month and were up 9.6 percent against a year earlier. Domestically produced knits rose 0.4 percent in June and were up 12.5 percent year-over-year.