Cotton prices could affect holiday shopping

A cotton stripping machine harvests cotton by stripping both the cotton and bolls from the stalk.

TEXT OF STORY

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: This morning, we'll get the latest earnings from department store Macy's. Things have been looking slightly better for retailers lately. And there are hopes for a brighter holiday season too. But this year shoppers might have a little trouble finding certain threads.

Marketplace's Jennifer Collins explains.


JENNIFER COLLINS: Stores like Macy's aren't subtle about their love for the holidays.

MACY'S PARADE: And this year take a look Santa arrives on an all new colossal float courtesy of Macy's.

SANTA: Happy Thanksgiving.

But things aren't so jolly when it comes to cotton. Prices of the commodity have doubled in the last year. Hanes and other clothes-makers have announced they'll charge more for T-shirts and other basics. But Steve Hoch of the Wharton school of business says: Retailers may have trouble passing along those costs.

STEVE HOCH: I don't think consumers are really going to have a whole lot of patience for retailers who say I'm sorry I had to raise my prices but cotton has gone up.

Instead, retail expert Marianne Bickle says stores may cut back on the cotton products they put on their shelves.

MARIANNE BICKLE: Anything cotton you want to buy right now. Because when you come shopping the very next week, it's not going to be there.

Of course, there's always wool or linen.

I'm Jennifer Collins for Marketplace.

About the author

Jennifer Collins is a reporter for the Marketplace portfolio of programs. She is based in Los Angeles, where she covers media, retail, the entertainment industry and the West Coast.

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