The swing in cotton prices has been particularly evident over the past year. Propelled by bad harvests in Asia and robust demand, cotton more than doubled between last July and March’s $2.1515 a pound peak price, the highest in the 140 years that the commodity has traded on an exchange. But cotton prices have retraced their gains, falling by more than half since early March. Prices for December delivery closed at 98.63 cents a pound on Thursday on the Intercontinental Exchange.
Cotton prices, which surged to historic highs this spring, have plunged 38% so far this month, roiling mill owners and apparel makers.
It’s a reversal for clothing makers that spent the last year grappling with higher costs and how much, if any, could be passed along to consumers. Now, retailers are wondering if lower cotton prices, off 53% since their March 4 peak, will last or if the roller-coaster ride will continue.