Friday, August 19, 2011

Back to school prices inflate by 10%

Stores are trying everything they can think of to disguise the fact that you're going to pay more for clothes this fall.

Some are using less fabric and calling it the new look. Others are adding cheap stitching and trumpeting it as a redesign. And the buttons on that blouse? Chances are you're not going to think it's worth paying several dollars more for the shirt just to have them.

Retailers are raising prices on merchandise an average of 10 percent across-the-board this fall in an effort to offset their rising costs for materials and labor. But merchants are worried that cash-strapped customers who are weighed down by economic woes will balk at price hikes. So, retailers are trying to raise prices without tipping off unsuspecting customers.

"Let the consumer trickery begin," said Brian Sozzi, Wall Street Strategies retail analyst

Retailers have long tried to mask price hikes - for instance, jacking them up more than needed so that they can offer a "sale" on the higher price. But the new strategies come as merchants' production and labor costs are expected to rise 10 percent to 20 percent in the second half of the year after having remained low during most of the past two decades. Costs can quickly add up: Raw materials account for 25 percent to 50 percent of the cost of producing a garment, while labor ranges from 20 percent to 40 percent, analysts estimate. (more)