Apparel and footwear contributed $354bn to the US economy in 2012, a bigger contribution than new cars, fast food, or "practically any other industry," according to a new snapshot of the sector.

The latest ApparelStats and ShoeStats reports from the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) show that while US apparel consumption by volume declined slightly in 2012, the value of that consumption (measured by Personal Consumption Expenditures) grew by 4.8% to $282.2bn at retail.

This continued growth reflects both the increase in retail prices driven by higher supply chain costs, including increases in materials, labour, and transportation - as well as more confident consumers coming out of the recession and purchasing apparel at higher price-points.

Building on the turnaround first seen in 2011, domestic US manufacturing of apparel (+8.5%) and footwear (+9.0%) continued to grow in 2012.

Thanks to that growth, import penetration - the percentage of the US market that is supplied by imports - declined slightly again in 2012 for both apparel and footwear, continuing the first-ever declines in import penetration witnessed in 2011.

That said, 97.5% of apparel sold in the United States is made internationally.

China remained the number one apparel supplier in 2012 (a ranking it has held since 2002) - but also remains the top global market for US cotton exports, the number two global market for US yarn exports and the number three global market for US fabric exports.

When it comes to US footwear consumption, the volume for 2012 dropped 0.6% to 2.31m pairs of shoes, but still remained 10.5% higher than the recession-level consumption experienced in 2008 and 2009.

The value of US footwear consumption grew by 4.9% to a record $72.4bn at retail.

Import penetration of the US footwear market was 98.6% in 2012 - 0.1% decline from 2011 also attributed to continuing growth in US footwear manufacturing.

While footwear imports from China declined 2.7% in 2012, the country still remains the largest supplier to the US market, accounting for more than 8 out of 10 shoes sold.

ApparelStats and ShoeStats examine the latest business and trade information related to US consumption, production, employment, imports and retail prices. Click here for a more detailed look at the data on US apparel industry trends.