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U.S. Retail Share Slide Since Black Friday Shows Margin Squeeze

The era of cheap jeans may be ending as U.S. apparel retailers take advantage of the economic recovery to boost prices on some products for the first time in more than a decade.

The increases may contribute to a slowing in consumer spending, while not fully offsetting record cotton costs, higher wages in China and rising freight charges that are squeezing margins. As companies juggle how much more they can charge without losing sales, New York-based AnnTaylor Stores Corp. is reducing production costs and Abercrombie & Fitch Co. is closing one of two distribution centers in New Albany, Ohio, its hometown, to trim expenditures.