Blog: Rising Cotton Prices Threaten to Unravel Relationships

David Gill

David Gill

When I recently asked textiles executives about their current issues in sourcing, one CEO answered: “In one word…COTTON!!”

This reply…actually, this primal scream…reflects the textiles industry’s ongoing frustration. From about 50 cents a pound a year and a half ago, cotton prices have climbed to the point where $2 a pound is now in clear sight—and they might not even stop there, once they reach that level.

Plus, cotton isn’t the only cost crunch in textiles. Because of the multiplying turmoil in the Middle East, oil and gasoline prices are expected to spike, and soon.

Yet sheet and towel producers say they are still having trouble passing along higher costs to retailers. They say the stores will only allow them to pass along increases in the low single digits—nowhere near enough to cover the added costs.

Nothing frustrates a pundit more than not being listened to.

Last year, I wrote a column urging retailers and manufacturers to call a cease-fire on their decades-old standoff on pricing.
In spite of the fact that apparently nobody listened at that time, I will repeat the message from that column: It’s time for manufacturers and retailers to come together, realize they need each other and determine fair prices with which both sides become winners.

To keep butting heads like this is butt-headed.—David Gill