Consumers itching for new jeans, pricey dress shirts or other cotton-heavy goods might want to pay especially close attention to this year’s holiday sales. Although the rising cost of cotton hasn’t hit shoppers yet, clothing companies have said prices will start climbing as early as January.
Bad weather in cotton-producing regions of India and China, and flooding in Pakistan, resulted in poor harvests this season, driving cotton prices up nearly 80% since the summer. So far, most clothing makers haven’t passed that cost increase along to consumers. But in recent weeks, the parent companies of a variety of brands – including retail chain Bon-Ton (BONT: 13.20*, +0.16, +1.22%), Jones New York, Hanes, premium denim producer 7 For All Mankind and outdoor clothing maker North Face – have said they expect to raise their prices by up to 10% in 2011. At this point, says Randy Allen, an associate dean for The Johnson School at Cornell University, “they can’t afford not to.”