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Surge In Cotton Prices Could Hit Your Wallet Hard

NEW YORK (CBS 2) -- Back to school shopping is taking on a whole new meaning at the malls.  Families -- hearing that cotton prices are surging-- are busy buying bargains while they still can.

2-month-old Bailey Mendlowitz's mom Aviva dresses her and her two older sisters in 100 percent cotton.

"My kids only wear cotton. They're not into the wool and the itchy stuff. They're very sensitive. So cotton makes up most of our clothing -- even in the winter. So that's important to me and I would not like to see the price of cotton go up," Mendlowitz told CBS 2's Jennifer McLogan.

Mendlowitz was shopping for bargains Monday --hoping to grab cotton clothing before there is a rush on it.  Already, Levi Strauss and other manufacturers are warning that cotton prices have soared 62 percent this year.

Experts explained that monsoons in China, India and Pakistan earlier this year, destroyed much of the world's cotton crop.

Also for the first time in a decade and a half, cotton exceeded $1 a pound in New York.

Dr.  Ahmet Karagozoglu, professor of Business and Finance at Hofstra University said global inventories have been drained.

"Demand for cotton is outpacing the supply.  As a result, December cotton futures trading in New York went above $1, which has never happened since 1995," Karagozoglu said.

Business students studying commodities trading noted prices and debated about what cotton will do down the road.

"When you look at cotton prices increasing as part of the raw goods, that means that the consumer today, is going to be able to take advantage of the lower prices. In a few months -between 4 and 6 months-- into 2011, you will see higher prices at retail," Marshal Cohen, analyst with the NPD Group said.

Cohen's message is to buy now, before Christmas because cotton prices are expected to surge after the first of the year.

An India-based cotton producer and shipper, whose company has been trading cotton for more than 100 years, told a Bloomberg survey "We have never seen such a hectic rise. It has broken all the rules."

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