The producer price index, which measures the average change in the selling prices received by domestic producers for their output, increased in March for apparel, but still remains low relative to recent months.
The index rose by 3.0% compared to the same month last year, slightly below February’s 3.2%.
The producer price index for all goods increased by 2.8%, a sixth straight month of decline.
The apparel producer price increase was driven primarily by menswear, which rose 8%, their first monthly increase after five months of declines since last September, when they spiked 8.5%. Menswear producer prices still remain high relative to other apparel categories. Much of the rise in menswear prices is due to strong growth in men’s tailored clothing, a category that typically gains momentum during an economic recovery as more men buy suits for interviews and new jobs.
Women’s producer prices increased by 1%, almost half February’s rise. The women’s category had been stable for the past several months. Producer prices declined during the recession, but then rose pretty steadily between September 2010 and September 2011 as meteoric cotton prices impacted costs. Since then, however, apparel makers – under tremendous pressure to shore up gross margins – have substituted synthetics for cotton wherever they can.