Higher Prices: The big trend for back-to-school

Higher Prices: The big trend for back-to-school

Watch out for these marketing ploys to get you to pay more for fall clothes.

Stores are trying everything they can think of to conceal the fact that you will pay more for clothing this fall.

Some use less fabric and call it the new look. Others are adding cheap and it seams like a trumpet overhaul. And buttons on this coat? Chances are that you will not think it’s worth paying a few dollars more for the shirt just to have them.

Retailers are rising prices of goods an average of 10 percent in the board – this fall in an effort to offset their rising costs for materials and labor. But traders are worried that cash-strapped customers who are burdened by economic hardship are grumbling against the price increases. Thus, retailers are trying to raise prices without tipping off unsuspecting customers.

Retailers have long tried to hide price increases – for example, jacking up more than necessary so they can offer a “sale” on the higher price. But the new production strategies that are traders and labor costs to increase by 10 percent to 20 percent in the second half of the year after having remained low during most of the last two decades. The costs can add up quickly: Raw materials account for 25 percent to 50 percent of the cost of production of a garment, while the work varies from 20 to 40 percent, analysts estimate.

Stores have already passed along their higher costs to customers by raising prices on certain items. The index of consumer prices, which includes all expenses except food and energy, rose 0.2 percent in July, the Labor Department said Thursday. But now that production costs are rising even higher, traders are increasing prices on a wide range of goods. Because of their fear that buyers will retreat, however, retailers are in the gray area between the style, quality and price.

Some merchants are inexpensive tweaks —- additional seams, buttonholes false, fancy labels —- to justify price increases. These embellishments can add a few cents to $ 1 for the cost of a garment, but retailers can charge $ 10 more for them, said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst with market research firm NPD Group .

“We do not see deflation or inflation, we see con-inflation,” he said. “The stores are making consumers think their getting more for their money.”

After the price of fabric to corduroy pants of his young daughter has almost doubled, catalog retailer Lands’ End, based in Dodgeville, Wisconsin, increased the price of the pants from $ 7 to $ 34.50. The company, a unit of Sears Holdings Corp, has also added buttons and stitching on the pockets to dress.

“Consumers will notice the difference in price,” said Michele Casper, spokeswoman for the end of a Lands’. “But they will also get many additional benefits so they know they are not getting short-changed.”

Others are removing things, but marketing it to customers as the latest trend. Elmen Spencer, owner of Cupid’s lingerie, which operates five stores in Arkansas, said it is to see more items in the store that are still skimpier than usual, from underwear mini dresses. He says it’s because the designers are finding clever ways to disguise the fact they have less clothing fabric.

Elmen said Teddy $ 39.99, which are $ 5 more than they were last year, have a studded heart that brings the material to conceal the fact that less tissue is used. He also noted that the corset with fishnet patterns are priced about 5 percent to about $ 49 more, even if they also have less material.

“They are just being more creative with less fabric,” said Elmen.

Adolescents retailer Abercrombie & Fitch is advertising “redesigned 2012” Jean collection in its stores and on its website, boasting that the jeans are “softer, with the perfect amount of stretch.” They are mostly sold between $ 78 and $ 88, or about $ 10 more than last year, according to Jennifer Black, head of research firm Jennifer Black & Associates.

Sozzi, Wall Street Strategies analyst detail, examined the jeans and believes they are “thin” and “cheaper quality.” Stretching further, he said, could simply say that the retailer is saving costs by using less denim.

Eric Cerny, a spokesman for Abercrombie & Fitch, declined comment. But what the leaders reiterated Cerny told investors in recent months: most of the increases on items will begin arriving in September and the chain will not sacrifice quality to achieve cost reductions.

Bill Melnick, director of strategic planning at the SAI Marketing, which studies consumer behavior for consumer brands, said most consumers may not notice the tactic to disguise the retail price. But he says buyers will not buy if they can not afford it.

“Shoppers are pragmatic,” he said, nothing they think “” If it fits in my budget, so it’s a sale. ”

Rhonda Sayen, a resident of Stephens City, Va., said she checked the prices on the items and noticed that new fall jeans were about $ 40 a year ago are now close to $ 60. She also said she has spotted a low-grade T-shirts to some of the stores.

“I know that prices have changed,” Sayen said, adding that she and her husband stick to a budget of $ 400 for clothes and supplies for her four children aged 3 to 18. “You do not fool me.”

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