The price of everyday items continues to rise.
Recent data from Eurostat suggests that consumer prices here rose 8.2% on the year to the end of May.
This translates into higher costs at store checkouts – Kantar recently estimated that the average household grocery bill will be €330 higher this year.
But not all price increases are created equal, with a myriad of factors affecting different products in different ways.
To help understand what’s going on, we’ve taken a closer look at a selection of everyday grocery items. Each has seen significant price increases, but each has a different story to tell as to why.
In this article, we are going to focus on clothes.
What’s going on with the cost of clothing?
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Clothing may not be a grocery essential, but it would be a regular purchase for many. With many large supermarkets now having their own clothing sections, this is also the kind of product that could easily end up in your basket.
According to the Central Bureau of Statistics’ consumer price data for April, the price of clothing rose 1.1% over the year, which isn’t too dramatic given what we’re seeing. somewhere else.
But the data also showed clothing prices rose 4.2% in April alone, compared to March, a huge jump in a matter of weeks.
Shoe prices, meanwhile, have risen more than 6% over the past year.
And what that indicates is the beginning of the increases reported by retailers, which are starting to trickle down to checkouts.
Almost every major clothing retailer has announced plans to raise prices – including Inditex, which owns brands like Zara; Primark, which owns Penneys here; H&M, Next and others.
Some of these increases have already happened – and this is part of what we see in the CSO data – but some are still to come. Penneys, for example, said its price increases would come to its fall/winter stock, so it wouldn’t really take effect until August.
Meanwhile, Next said it plans to raise prices in the second half of the year – but when it does it will average 6.5%.
Clothes will therefore probably become a little more expensive in the coming months.
What is the cause?
Well, a lot of the apparel industry is very heavily dependent on the global supply chain.
Many big brands, both on the mass market side and on the high end and luxury side, would have their products produced in places like China, India or Vietnam and then ship them around the world to be sold. in a store of the likes of Ireland.
So when the pandemic hit, the factories making the goods closed – as did the ports shipping the goods around the world.
And we’ve had to deal with the backlog that all of that has since created, with the cost of shipping goods now much higher than it used to be.
But even if the clothes you buy are made in Ireland, they face a similar problem. This is because they probably have to import the materials they use.
Most cotton comes from the United States or Brazil, wool may come from Australia or South Africa, China is the largest exporter of denim, linen and polyester.
With the exception of a few small businesses here that use Irish wool, or perhaps high-quality linen or leather from Europe (which are more expensive to begin with), it’s likely that even local manufacturers will face the same type of shipping issues as those who manufacture the goods in Asia.
But that’s only part of the story when it comes to clothing.
What does durability do to the price?
One of the big underlying trends in apparel in recent years has been sustainability – or lack thereof.
And it’s something many apparel companies are finally taking steps to address — or at least they say they are. While this is undeniably a good thing, it unfortunately comes at a cost.
It all depends on its exact cost, but it will always cost more than the unsustainable, fast-fashioned structure that has been in place in many businesses for quite some time.
In effect, sustainability means that a clothing company no longer focuses on finding the cheapest supply of whatever material it uses. Instead, they should focus on whether the people who grow, produce, and manufacture the materials are treated well and paid properly.
They also focus on making sure the product itself doesn’t harm the environment – this can mean avoiding plastic-based materials like polyester or nylon in favor of natural materials like cotton; or opt for higher quality dyes.
Maybe they want to make sure that renewable energy is used in the production and transportation of your goods – or at the very least that carbon emissions are offset in some way.
And maybe they decide to implement a so-called closed-loop system, where people can bring in items they’ve finished and recycle them into new products.
And each of these things they do adds a bit of cost to each item they make.
But beyond that, sustainability is also about extending the life of the clothes we buy.
Part of that is up to us as consumers, but it’s also up to retailers to make sure what they’re selling isn’t going to fall apart after a few uses.
This means manufacturing products to higher standards, which costs more, per item, than manufacturing products from a distant factory.
However, the durability should also make people buy less than before because they don’t need to keep replacing items at the same rate.
So the average we spend on each item might go up – but the hope is that the total amount we spend on clothes stays the same, or maybe even goes down a bit.