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Apparel purchases bounce back
Apr '08
In January, sales results for the three largest department stores showed that apparel purchases bounced back, strengthening solidly from a year earlier.

Wool coats and outerwear sales recovered since the middle of January, but demand for men's formal suits remained flat throughout the season. Cashmere and silk blends attracted stronger consumer responses at the upper end of men's suit and knitwear markets.

For the season total, it is reported that women's apparel sales improved slightly, but men's wear and casual/out-door was down compared with the A/W 2006.

The consumer sentiment index (a gauge of consumer expectations about economic/living conditions over next 6 months) in January recorded a 5-year high. On the other hand, Consumer Evaluation Index, which compares consumer judgement on the current state of economy/living with those of six month ago, dropped from December, deteriorating for the third straight month.

Combining the two contrasting trends in the indicators, private-sector economists anticipate little improvement in consumer sentiment for the time being, with economic uncertainties including rising consumer prices, oil and grain prices.

Spring merchandise was released mid February. Extra-fine merino, Sirofil and luxury blends with silk and cashmere remain strong in men's wear, but wool-blends with rayon and synthetics further increased in the women's market for the spring season.

Australian Wool Innovation Limited

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