Consumer Confidential: Clothing prices rising, cellphones go 3-D, best grocery baggers meet
-- The economy may be mending, but it'll be pricier to look sharp. According to the Associated Press, clothing prices are expected to rise about 10% in coming months. Cotton has more than doubled in price over the last year, hitting all-time highs. The price of other synthetic fabrics has jumped roughly 50% as demand for alternatives and blends has risen. Brooks Brothers' wrinkle-free men's dress shirts now cost $88, up from $79.50. Levi Strauss, Wrangler jeans maker VF Corp., JCPenney, Nike and designer shoe seller Steve Madden also plan increases. More specifics on price increases are expected when clothing retailers report financial results this month. I'm thinking I can get a bit more mileage out of my old khakis.
-- Consumers haven't exactly embraced the notion of 3-D TV sets, but a leading electronics company is gambling that what we really want is 3-D cellphones. According to the Associated Press, LG Electronics has demonstrated a phone with a 3-D screen and a 3-D camera. The device is set to go on sale later in the spring. The screen produces the illusion of depth without the need for special glasses and includes a pair of five-megapixel lenses for taking 3-D photos and video. But like those 3-D pictures that have been held just so, the new phone must be held at the proper distance and angle for the viewer to perceive depth. Anyone remember when cellphones were basically just for phone calls?
-- And in case you didn't know, the country's best grocery baggers are meeting to determine -- finally -- who's the best. According to the Associated Press, baggers from 21 states are gathering in Las Vegas to go toe to toe as part of the National Grocery Assn. conference. The big event is being held Monday afternoon at the Mirage resort. The baggers will have to pack an assortment of jars, cans, boxes and loaves of bread in reusable bags. They'll be judged on speed, attitude, appearance, weight distribution and technique. The winner will receive $10,000. Second place will receive $5,000. And third, fourth and fifth places will all receive $1,000. I just wonder if there will be bonus points for helping people get eggs home unbroken.
-- David Lazarus
Photo: Looking sharp (like "Gossip Girl" stars Blake Lively, left, and Leighton Meester) may get tougher as clothing prices rise. Credit: Giovanni Rufino / The CW