WASHINGTON — Deflation was back firmly in the wholesale price tags for women’s apparel last month.
Wholesale prices of U.S.-made women’s apparel in November declined 1.3 percent against October, the Labor Department reported Tuesday in its monthly Producer Price Index. October had shown an uptick of 0.7 percent.
The fall in the women’s apparel prices was also in contrast to the 0.5 percent increase for all finished goods.
Compared to November 1994, women’s apparel prices last month dipped 0.8 percent, while wholesale prices for all finished goods over the year were up 2 percent. Prices for all apparel declined 0.6 percent for the month and were up 0.6 percent over the year.
“This report represents a continuation of the lagging sales in the women’s apparel market,” said Carl Priestland, economist for the American Apparel Manufacturers Association. “It’s a squeeze at every end of the apparel pipeline.”
This is also the case for the U.S. textile industry, which hasn’t seen a change of any real measure in wholesale prices since July, said Dave Link, economist for the American Textile Manufacturers’ Institute. Compared to November 1994, textile prices were up 2 percent last month, reflecting some of the price increases for raw materials. Against October, prices in November were down marginally, less than 0.1 percent.
“The textile prices reflect the doldrums the industry is in,” Link said.
Another barometer of the lethargic textile market is the slackening of new orders, which in October, according to the latest data, were down 3.3 percent against September to $5.886 billion. Compared to October 1994, new orders were down 10.8 percent.
Textile shipments were off 2.2 percent in October against September to $6.1 billion and were down 2.1 percent over the year. Unfilled orders, or the backlog mills need to fill, declined for the fifth consecutive month in October, sliding 2.7 percent against September. Compared to October 1994, unfilled orders were off 4.9 percent.
Meanwhile, some of the women’s apparel categories with significant wholesale price changes last month were blouses, down 5.4 percent in November and down 2.3 percent over the year, and knit outerwear sportshirts, down 1.3 percent for the month and up 0.3 percent from November 1994.
Skirt prices declined 0.2 percent in November and were down 2.9 percent against year-ago levels, as prices for dresses increased 0.1 percent for the month and were down 0.3 percent over the year. Prices for slacks and jeans declined 1.1 percent for the month and for the year. Bra prices were up 0.2 percent for the month but down 1.2 percent from November 1994, and panty prices were unchanged in November and increased 2.1 percent over the year. — Fairchild News Service

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