• Jennifer Marks

Market Week Wrap-Up

Jennifer MarksJennifer Marks
I SAW A LOT of polyester. That includes poly-rich sheet sets and utility bedding shells as well as micro-fiber top of bed. As many suppliers noted, poly prices may be high, but cotton prices are higher.
     To the industry's credit, a lot of work has been done to give many of the poly-heavy constructions a reasonably dry and somewhat cottony-like hand.
     Most asked question of the market: Are retailers taking prices increases? Most people said they are - but not enough to cover the actual raw material cost hikes. De-specing is the rule of the day.
     Which brings us to ... quick dry towels! It was the most-used spin on thin, light-weight towels that can meet an opening price point.
"In the most interesting development, I began to hear some speculation about production moving closer to home."
     Certainly, not everyone wants a bath towel that, when wet, weighs more than a frozen turkey. But the industry for years has been telling the consumer that fat, fluffy and highly absorbent is the way to go. Will the consumer cotton (so to speak) to an about face?
     We're starting to see suppliers extending into new categories again. That suggests they're confident enough to make investments. It also suggests that with a rather stagnant pool of target accounts, one needs to branch out to increase revenues.
     If there was a theme on the international front, it would have to be: It's good to be an Indian manufacturer. With all that's been happening in China over the past year and a half, Indian suppliers are feeling well-positioned vis-à-vis the U.S. market. Most of those with whom I spoke are in the midst of expanding capacity (usually core product capacity and some new product capacity). When asked about pursuit of their domestic market, the answer usually indicates it's either very tertiary, or it's too early to consider at all.
    In the most interesting development, I began to hear some speculation about production moving closer to home. Many are betting China will finally begin letting its currency loose over the next few years. I heard mentioned the possibility some cut-and-sew could return to the United States, just enough to satisfy fast-fashion home goods and quick-turn replenishment. A couple people also mentioned China's rising prices might put Mexico back into play as a home textiles homeland.
     Overall, the mood was pretty good. Let's hope it points the way forward.

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