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US apparel imports up two per cent in first six months of this year

US apparel imports increased 2.2 per cent for the first six months of the year compared to the year earlier. Retail apparel sales rebounded from their sluggishness amid strong consumer sentiment, and brands accelerated buying activity ahead of tariffs stemming from the US trade war with China.

Imports from Cambodia grew the most, by more than 14 per cent in the half. Men’s woven cotton shirts, women’s cotton pants and women’s manmade fiber knit tops were the big growth categories from the southeast Asian country.

Bangladesh saw an increase in shipments to the US by 4.8 per cent. Vietnam gained 60 basis points share of US apparel imports so far this year, or 15 per cent of the total.

Despite a rush to bring in goods from China before new tariffs kick in, apparel imports from China fell two per cent in the first half of the year compared to the same period in 2017. Volume dropped 0.8 per cent, however, driving cost down by 1.2 per cent compared to last year as the production of many labor-intensive and complex garments moved to other countries. Higher manufacturing costs and near fears of higher tariffs are driving many brands to seek sourcing options elsewhere in Asia.