The slowdown in consumer spending has hit sales at Fruit of the Loom, the apparel business controlled by billionaire Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc, the company said last week.

In its third quarter results update, Berkshire Hathaway said revenues from its "other manufacturing" activities - which includes businesses ranging from building products to clothing - fell 13% to $3.24bn in the three months to 30 September.

Specifically, it said apparel sales are also down by 13% during the first nine months of 2009 compared with the same period last year.

Berkshire Hathaway's apparel operations are led by Fruit of the Loom, which includes the Russell athletic apparel and sporting goods business and the Vanity Fair Brands women's intimate apparel business.

"Nearly all of the businesses in the manufacturing group are experiencing the adverse effects of the global economic recession as consumers and customers dramatically cut purchases," the company said in a filing.

Pre-tax earnings of the other manufacturing businesses fell 39% to $293m in the quarter, and were down by 56% to $640m in the first nine months.

"The declines in earnings reflected the lower revenues as well as relatively higher costs resulting from lower manufacturing efficiencies," the company said.

It added: "These businesses have taken actions to reduce costs and reduce or delay capital spending until the economy improves."