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US apparel imports drop three per cent in June

US apparel imports dropped 3.4 per cent in June. On a 12-month smoothed basis, apparel imports fell by 2.9 per cent, their smallest drop in 13 months. Stagnant consumer demand for apparel and persistent price deflation at troubled brick-and-mortar retailers weighed heavily on demand. Continued declines in store traffic and seemingly weekly new store closure announcements are causing many stores to rein in inventory. US buyers are placing smaller, more frequent orders with shorter lead times requested.

Total apparel imports declined by 1.9 per cent in the first six months of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016. China lost the most share in US apparel imports in the period, down 0.6 percentage points to 30.9 per cent. Bangladesh lost share, with apparel shipments to the US down by 5.5 per cent in the first six months of 2017.

Among the top ten US apparel trading partners, only Vietnam, Nicaragua and Mexico registered an increase in apparel shipments. Continuing to make headway despite failure of TPP, Vietnam’s apparel shipments to the US grew by 5.5 per cent in the period. On a square meter equivalent basis, imports edged up 1.7 per cent this year, continuing the overall tendency towards cheaper goods, despite upward pressure on labor and raw material costs.