The volume of US apparel imports rose 1.2% in June

The volume of US apparel imports rose 1.2% in June

US apparel imports have continued to climb in June - in marked contrast to an overall drop in total imports of goods and services - with double-digit gains in shipments from Bangladesh and Vietnam helping offset declines from China.

The latest official data, which coincides with retailers starting to bring more merchandise into the country for the back-to-school season, puts total apparel imports up 1.2% in June to 1.99bn square metre equivalents (SME) compared with 1.98bn in the same month last year.

The figures also point to a 1.5% rise on May, when US apparel imports were 1.96bn SME. However, the rate of import growth slowed in June, compared with a rise of 7.6% the month before.

Separately, figures released yesterday (6 August) by the Commerce Department showed total US imports of goods and services - which include industrial supplies and materials, consumer goods, foods and beverages and automotives - fell by 2.5% month-on-month to $225.40bn.

Data from the Office of Textiles and Apparel (OTEXA) shows China remained the largest apparel supplier to the US in June, but its shipments slipped 0.36% on a year earlier to 841m SME.

In contrast, second-largest supplier Vietnam showed the strongest growth, with a rise of 16.25% to 194m SME.

Bangladesh, in third position, saw gains of 13.38% to 135m SME, while Cambodia's shipments climbed 10.42% to 75m SME. India also edged up 6.88% to 71m SME.

During the month, US apparel imports fell from Indonesia (-8.10% to 91m SME), Honduras (-6.95% to 101m SME), Mexico (-8.89% to 76m SME), El Salvador (-5.05% to 68m SME), and Pakistan (-8.84% to 49m SME).

Regional apparel imports were led by ASEAN, which rose 4.75% to 422m SME, and South Asia, up 8.39% to 285m SME.

However, while US apparel imports rose in June, textile imports fell 1.98% to 2.73bn SME, with a 0.81% rise from China to 1.49bn SME offset by declines from India (-1.37% to 212m SME), Pakistan (-6.58% to 173m SME) and Mexico (-4.40% to 123m SME).

The combined results meant total US textile and apparel imports slipped 0.65% in June compared with the same month last year, to 4.73bn SME.

Six-month view
While monthly trade data is often volatile, with big swings from month to month, a broader six-month view shows US apparel and textile imports were higher than a year earlier - rising 2.98% to 26.86bn SME.

While shipments from biggest supplier China rose 2.20% to 12.11bn SME in the six months to the end of June, the biggest gains were seen by Vietnam, whose imports surged 17.48% to 1.8bn SME, making it the third-largest supplier in volume terms.

India was second at 1.8bn SME (up 4.42%), while gains were also booked by Pakistan (up 2.50% to 1.27bn SME) and Bangladesh (up 9.95% to 1.03bn SME).

During the six months, apparel imports rose 5.78% to 11.63bn SME, from 10.99bn SME the year before.

China again remained in pole position, with shipments up 6.18% to 4.39bn SME. Strong gains were also seen by second and third largest apparel suppliers Vietnam and Bangladesh, rising 13.14% to 1.17bn SME, and 9.65% to 868m SME respectively.