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WASHINGTON — Wholesale prices of domestically produced women's apparel in February declined 0.2 percent from January, the same decline seen in overall wholesale prices, the Labor Department reported Thursday in its monthly Producer Price Index.
Analysts had expected a decline in women's apparel prices last month after an unusual 1.1 percent increase in January, which was largely pinned on the early introduction of spring lines entering stores at regular prices.
Carl Priestland, chief economist with the American Apparel Manufacturers Association, said manufacturers continue to be under pressure to reduce prices.
"It's another indication there is a slowdown in the market," Priestland said.
Last week, the Labor Department reported the apparel industry hit another all-time employment low.
Compared with February 1995, women's apparel prices at the wholesale level declined 0.2 percent, compared with a 2 percent increase for all finished goods. Prices for all apparel were unchanged for the month and increased 0.8 percent over the year.
Producer prices for men's and boys' apparel in February increased 0.4 percent and were up 1.7 percent against February 1995.
Within the women's apparel categories tracked, wholesale prices for skirts were unchanged for the month and declined 0.2 percent from February 1995, as prices for dresses increased 3.3 percent in February and were off 0.1 percent against year-ago levels.
Producer prices of sweaters, jackets and jerseys dropped 7.7 percent in February and were up 0.1 percent over the year. Jeans and slacks prices dipped 2.6 percent for the month and were up 0.6 percent during the 12-month period, as prices for blouses declined 0.1 percent for the month and for the year.
Textile prices edged up 0.3 percent for the month and increased 1.6 percent against February 1995. Within the category, prices for synthetic fibers declined 0.4 percent for the month and were up 3.1 percent over the year, as prices for processed yarns and threads increased 0.2 percent in February and were up 2.5 percent during the 12-month period.
Prices for gray fabrics increased 0.1 percent for the month and were up 0.2 percent over the year, as prices for finished fabrics increased 0.3 percent for the month and were up 2.2 percent against February 1995. — Fairchild News Service