WASHINGTON — Wholesale prices for U.S. made apparel increased 0.1 percent in May compared with April, and rose 1.4 percent from a year earlier, the Labor Department said on Tuesday.
Women’s and girls’ apparel prices declined 0.1 percent in May, but increased 1.6 percent in year-over-year comparisons, according to the Producer Price Index. Men’s and boys’ apparel prices were up 0.3 percent month-to-month, and advanced 2.1 percent from May 2008. Prices for all U.S.-made goods rose a seasonally adjusted 0.2 percent in May. The increase followed a rise of 0.3 percent in April and a decline of 1.2 percent in March.
“The May producer price report supports a picture of generally weak final demand for both consumer and investment goods, leading to general downward pressure on prices,” said Brian Bethune, chief U.S. financial economist, IHS Global Insight.
The PPI for apparel is not a true indicator of price fluctuations because of the relatively small number of manufacturers operating in the U.S. The Consumer Price Index, to be released today, is a more accurate measure because it reflects the prices for all goods, including imports.
Prices for women’s and girls’ knit shirts and blouses, dresses, tailored jackets and vests, and jeans and slacks were flat in May compared with April. Compared with the same period a year earlier, prices for knit shirts and blouses increased 1 percent. Woven shirts and blouses were up 1.3 percent, and dresses advanced 1.4 percent. Tailored jacket and vest prices were flat year-to-year. Jeans and slacks prices fell 0.3 percent.
Domestic prices for men’s and boys’ work clothing increased 0.5 percent in May and rose 3.7 percent year-over-year. Knit shirts advanced 1.4 percent from the prior month and in 12-month comparisons. Prices for woven shirts were flat in May, but rose 0.5 percent compared with a year earlier. Suits increased 0.3 percent month-to-month, and advanced 4.3 percent compared with May 2008.
Apparel fabric, also known as textile mill goods, saw prices drop 0.6 percent in May, but increased 0.7 percent compared with a year earlier. Prices for textile product mills, which make home furnishing and industrial fabrics, rose 0.3 percent month-to-month and advanced 2.4 percent year-over-year.
Deeper in the pipeline, synthetic fiber prices declined 5.3 percent in May and fell 5.4 percent in 12-month comparisons. Yarns were flat month-to-month, but dropped 4.8 percent year-to-year. Greige fabric increased 0.4 percent in May and rose 4.6 percent from a year earlier. Finished fabric prices dropped 0.9 percent compared with April, but rose 1.5 percent year-over-year.