WASHINGTON — Pressure from high cotton prices abated in October, as U.S.-made apparel prices fell for the month, although there were still some signs of inflation year-over-year.

This story first appeared in the November 16, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Prices on domestically produced apparel dipped 0.4 percent in October compared with September, but were up 3.9 percent over October 2010, the U.S. Labor Department’s Producer Price Index showed Tuesday.

In the overall economy, wholesale prices fell 0.3 percent in October, driven largely by declining gasoline prices. The core PPI index, excluding volatile food and energy costs, was flat.

Men’s apparel prices fell 1.3 percent last month, but were still 7.2 percent higher than October 2010. Prices for U.S.-made women’s apparel were flat in October compared with September and were 1.3 percent higher than a year earlier.

In men’s, wholesale prices on work shirts dropped 9.2 percent in the month and 0.8 percent for the year, while prices on jeans fell 3.4 percent in October compared with September, but were 1.8 percent higher than a year earlier. Prices on U.S.-made work clothing fell 1.8 percent last month, but were 3.9 percent above a year earlier and prices on underwear and nightwear declined 2.9 percent in October, but were 5 percent higher than a year earlier.

In women’s, wholesale prices on tailored jackets and vests fell 1 percent in October, but were 5.9 percent higher than October 2010, while prices on swimwear fell 0.3 percent in October but were 2.6 percent higher than a year earlier. Wholesale prices on U.S.-made dresses rose 0.2 percent in the month and 0.7 percent for the year.

“Inflation pressures are easing as commodity prices have fallen,” said Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight. “That’s good news for manufacturers who aren’t seeing the same sort of cost pressures as earlier in the year.”

The PPI for apparel is not considered a key indicator, since a vast majority of goods are imported. The Consumer Price Index, released Wednesday, is a more important gauge, since it includes all goods sold at retail.

Further down the pipeline, prices on U.S.-made finished fabrics and knits were still showing signs of inflationary pressure. Wholesale prices on finished fabrics rose 0.6 percent in October and were 8.6 percent higher than October 2010, while prices on knits rose 1.1 percent last month and were 14.6 percent above a year earlier. Wholesale prices on U.S.-made yarns fell 2 percent in October but were still 15.9 percent above a year earlier, while prices on U.S.-made gray fabrics fell 0.9 percent in October but were 16.8 percent higher than a year earlier.

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