WASHINGTON — Wholesale prices for U.S.-made apparel rose 0.2 percent in October compared with September and advanced 0.3 percent from a year ago, the Labor Department said Tuesday in its Producer Price Index.

This story first appeared in the November 18, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Women’s and girls’ domestic apparel prices increased 0.1 percent in October, but were flat year-over-year. Men’s and boys’ apparel rose 0.5 percent month-to-month and grew 1 percent compared with a year earlier.

Prices for all U.S.-made goods rose 0.3 percent in October after a decline of 0.6 percent in September and an increase of 1.7 percent in August.

The October PPI “was another in a series of goldilocks readings on inflation: not too hot, not too cold,” said Patrick Newport, U.S. economist for IHS Global Insight.

The PPI for apparel is not a true indicator of industry price fluctuations because of the small percentage of U.S.-made goods sold at retail. The Consumer Price Index, to be released today, is a more accurate measure because it reflects all goods, including imports.

Domestic prices for women’s knit shirts and blouses were flat in October compared with September and declined 0.1 percent year-to-year. Woven shirts and blouses increased 0.2 percent, but fell 0.6 percent in 12-month comparisons. Prices for jeans and slacks declined 0.7 percent in October, but were flat compared with a year earlier.

Prices for men’s work clothing and suits were both flat, but rose 4.8 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively, in 12-month comparisons. Knit shirt prices gained 3.3 percent month-to-month and advanced 0.3 percent compared with a year ago. Woven shirts increased 1.7 percent month-to-month and were up 1 percent compared with October 2008.

Apparel fabric prices were flat, but fell 2.3 percent in 12-month comparisons. Prices for fabrics made at textile product mills, primarily home furnishing and industrial fabrics, rose 1 percent month-to-month and advanced 1.9 percent compared with a year earlier.

Deeper in the pipeline, domestic synthetic fiber prices declined 1.3 percent and 4.2 percent year-over-year. Yarns rose 0.3 percent, but declined 4.6 percent compared with a year earlier. Greige fabrics dipped 0.1 percent in the month, but rose 0.3 percent for the year. Finished fabric prices fell 0.1 percent and 1.4 percent year-to-year.

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