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High cotton prices threaten cheap fashion

Era of cheap clothes could be over, retailers say

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We compared prices from outlets to online and high-street shops

Several retailers have warned that the era of cheap fashion could be under threat, thanks to a sharp rise in the price of cotton.

After this summer’s severe floods in cotton-producing nations including China and Pakistan, textile mills have rushed to buy the fibre. In turn, this has pushed prices above the $1 a pound level for only the second time since the US civil war, according to analysts at the Financial Times.

Retailers including Next and Primark have warned that the surge in cotton prices is likely to hit high street shoppers, as rising wholesale costs are passed on to the consumers who purchase clothes. Items such as cheap T-shirts and jeans are especially likely to increase in price.

The rise in VAT planned for January 2011 is also set to have an impact on shoppers, experts say. As VAT increases to 20%, the cost of clothes for adults will increase – although the price of children’s clothing will be unaffected.

Ways to cut the cost of clothing

Nick Cheek, deputy editor of Which? Money magazine, commented: ‘The potential price rises retail experts are predicting could come as a real shock to people who are used to picking up clothes costing just a few pounds – and it’s the last thing many of us will need as the economy still isn’t back to full strength.

‘However, there are ways to save money on clothing – even if you’re a true fashion fan. Read out brand new advice guide, 10 ways to cut the cost of clothes shopping for our top tips.’

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