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Takeaway: Key Retail Chart: Apparel inflation spreads, which have a direct gross margin impact, are trending slightly positive.

Here’s a key retail chart. With the apparel industry at peak margins (both cyclical and secular) there is one chart we look at more than any other – and that is the group’s margins compared to the spread between industry buying costs and selling costs. The trend suggests that buying costs are trending below the change in retail prices (ie margin bullish). We need a lot to go right in order for this to sustain itself throughout 2013. But it’s a positive trend nonetheless.  

Key Retail Macro Chart - macro2

Key Retail Macro Chart - macro1