Blog: Leonie BarrieUS retailers see mixed May

Leonie Barrie | 7 June 2011

After receiving a late Easter boost to sales last month, it was perhaps inevitable that US apparel retailers would see only modest sales gains in May, with many blaming cold weather, storms and flooding for dampening demand for spring and summer merchandise. Others say concerns over the rising cost of living, including higher energy costs and climbing prices, continue to weigh on consumers. Data shows apparel retailers saw May sales come in well below the year-to-date trend.

Where will clothing retail be heading next? That's the focus of this month's management briefing from just-style, which finds that as the economic recovery accelerates, global clothing retail trends are showing great diversity, from eco-friendly fashions to online opportunities and emerging BRICM markets.

With just 14 months to go before the opening of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the event's official sportswear sponsor Adidas says preparations are going according to plan - and that supply and cost issues won't detract from its goals.

Europe's biggest sports goods maker has made no secret of its aim of using the games as a springboard to overtake Nike in the UK by 2015, and says it expects to sell GBP100m (US$165m) worth of Games merchandise over the four years of its sponsorship deal. As well as kit for Team GB and Paralympics GB, Adidas will supply the outfits worn by an estimated 70,000 volunteers - all of which will contain recycled content.

Elsewhere, the world's major economic powers have thrown in the towel on reaching a global trade deal by the end of 2011, and to save face have instead opted to try and come up with a package to benefit the poorest countries. The focus now is to try and get an accord on duty-free quota-free access, easier rules of origin for exports from the poorest countries, and a "step forward" for cotton.

US lawmakers, meanwhile, are calling for tougher rules on Vietnam as part of talks on the multi-lateral Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement, amid fears it will flood American markets with cheap clothing. Vietnam already supplies the US with US$6.5bn annually in finished textiles and apparel, and has recently been expanding its reach into industrial fabrics.

But recent protests by Sri Lankan factory workers over government plans for a pension scheme have accelerated into violence, with the country's largest export processing zone forced to close last week after clashes left more than 300 workers in hospital. Factories in the trade zone, which export apparel to the UK, EU and US, claim shipments were unaffected.


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