Blog: Leonie Barrie2019 off to a positive start

Leonie Barrie | 7 January 2019

Getting 2019 off to a positive start, it seems US apparel retailers saw some holiday cheer, with strong sales momentum that started during the back-to-school season carrying on to Christmas. The best holiday shopping season in eight years, according to data that tracks consumer purchases, with sales from before Thanksgiving through Christmas up 7.9% year-on-year.

We’ve also taken an in-depth look at the financial implications of changing sourcing strategies – by analysing the annual reports of the 50 largest US-based apparel companies to find out what these moves mean.

Wage rises are also afoot, with Tunisian textile and garment workers set to see salary increases over the next two years. While in Honduras, workers are to receive a near 40% hike in wages over the next five years, after a historic agreement was approved.

But separate research suggests that garment industry workers who are paid a partial piece rate are more likely to report reduced emotional and physical health than those paid by the hour.

In Bangladesh, the safety activities of 100 Accord-monitored ready-made garment (RMG) factories have been handed over to the government's Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE).

And an initiative that aims to tackle audit fatigue and duplication in the apparel and footwear sector is planning to scale up its operations after its plan for the next five years was approved.

But US citizens travelling to China have been advised to "exercise increased caution" by the US Department of State, which has issued a Level 2 travel advisory for the country. The move suggests that despite the US and China calling a truce on trade, tensions still exist between the two.

With manufacturing technology advancing at an ever-faster pace, sports apparel and footwear companies need to constantly look for ways to embrace new tools to compete in an ever-changing landscape, an international industry meeting has heard. But ensuring workers are capable of handling changes associated with this next generation of manufacturing technology remains a key challenge.

Meanwhile, in other news, the Oeko-Tex Association has amended its guidelines for 2019; global cotton production is expected to fall in the 2018/19 season for the first time in three years; and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) has finally come into effect, without the US.

And in case you missed it, we ended 2018 by sifting through the thousands of stories published on just-style to share the year’s top news, comment, analysis and interviews. The US-China trade war, digitalisation, worker safety and sustainability were just some of the issues covered.

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