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Apparel Wholesale Inventories Grew in December

Warm weather and soft sales toward the end of 2015 meant that clothing stores did not need to replenish their merchandise, leading to inventory levels at U.S. wholesalers inching up in December after falling in the previous month.

The U.S. Department of Commerce on Tuesday published its “Monthly Wholesale Trade Survey” and said that apparel inventories were a seasonally adjusted $30.9 billion for the final month of last year. That was up 2.1% from $30.3 billion in November, a 30-day period that had registered a 1.2% decline in volume from October’s $30.7 billion.

Meanwhile, year-over-year growth was a whopping 15.2% from last December’s $26.9 billion.

To that end, sales fell 4.5% to $14.5 billion during the month, declining from November’s $15.2 billion but up 0.8% from the year-ago period’s $14.4 billion. Moreover, the ratio of stocks to sales was 2.13, compared with 1.99 in November and 1.86 in December 2014.

Some industries did fare better than apparel, however, resulting in total inventories of merchant wholesalers—except manufacturers’ sales branches and offices—dropping 0.1% to a seasonally adjusted $582 billion in December, down from November’s $582.8 billion. Sales were down 0.3% from $441 billion to $440 billion.