July saw US apparel imports rise by 6.5% over the same month last year

July saw US apparel imports rise by 6.5% over the same month last year

US textile and apparel imports continued to climb in July as retailers brought more merchandise into the country for the back-to-school season, with double-digit gains seen by both Bangladesh and Vietnam.

According to official figures from the Department of Commerce's Office of Textiles and Apparel (OTEXA), total textile and apparel imports climbed 4.8% compared with a year earlier to 5.3bn square metre equivalents (SME).

Leading the way, China remained the largest textile and apparel supplier to the US in July, with shipments up 5.92% to 2.66bn SME. India, in second place, saw gains of 5.4% to 300m SME.

However, by far the biggest winners in the month were Vietnam, in third place, with a rise of 14.9% to 319m SME, and sixth-place Bangladesh, whose US imports jumped 16.6% to 187m SME.

But these gains contrasted with a 6.6% drop in textile and apparel shipments from Pakistan at 216m SME, and a decline of 15.4% to 111m SME from South Korea.

Regional imports were led by South Asia (up 4.6% to 739m SME), and ASEAN (up 9.2% to 692m SME).

In terms of apparel, growth accelerated to 6.5% in July compared with the same month last year, with world imports into the US coming in at 2.45bn SME thanks to gains at eight of the top-ten supplier countries. This also represents a massive rise of 23.1% over the 1.99bn SME imported in June.

There was some consolation for China, the largest apparel supplier to the US, whose shipments rose 5.2% on the year before to 1.09bn SME - after slipping 0.36% year-on-year in June to 841m SME.

Second-largest supplier Vietnam saw growth of 12.5% to 232m SME, while Bangladesh, in third position, saw gains of 17.3% to 168m SME. Fourth placed Indonesia rose 3.7% to 124m SME.

The data continues to suggest there has so far been no negative impact on orders from Bangladesh following the Rana Plaza building collapse and wider factory safety issues.

Double-digit apparel import hikes were also seen during the month by India (up 19.4% to 78m SME) and El Salvador (up 14.7% to 79m SME), while Cambodia's shipments climbed 1.9% to 88m SME.

During the month, US apparel imports fell from Honduras (-9.1% to 99m SME) and Pakistan (-3.0% to 55m SME).

Regional apparel imports were led by ASEAN, which rose 8.3% to 526m SME, and South Asia, up 13.8% to 335m SME.

As far as US textile imports are concerned, July saw a total rise of 3.4% from the year before to 2.84bn SME, with a slightly higher 4.0% gain over June's figures.

Regional declines from South Asia (-2.0% to 404m SME) and the OECD region (-6.3% to 359m SME) were offset by gains of 12.1% to 166m SME from ASEAN countries.

Of the top textile suppliers, China's shipments rose 6.5% to 1.56bn SME, with those from India edging up 1.2% to 222m SME and Mexico increasing 5.3% to 137m SME. The biggest volume rise during July was booked by Vietnam, which surged 21.8% to 87m SME.

But falls in imports were seen by Pakistan (-7.7% to 161m SME and South Korea (-17.2% to 102m SME).

Year-to-date
While monthly trade data is often volatile, with big swings from month to month, a broader year-to-date view shows total US apparel and textile imports are 3.7% higher in the seven months to July.

Compared with the same period last year, they stand at 32.15bn SME, up from 31.13bn SME. Within this, textile imports climbed 1.3% to 18.1bn SME and apparel imports were up 5.9% to 14.1bn SME.

In order, the top five apparel supply countries to the US in the year so far are China (up 6.0% to 5.48bn SME), Vietnam (up 13.0% to 1.4bn SME), Bangladesh (up 10.8% to 1.0bn SME), Indonesia (up 4.6% to 807m SME), and Honduras (-1.9% to 622m SME).

Also making significant headway is Cambodia, which comes in sixth with a rise of 6.30% to 608m SME.