Blog: Leonie BarrieImports rise but promotions drive sales

Leonie Barrie | 9 September 2013

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

According to official figures, total textile and apparel imports climbed 4.8% compared with a year earlier. Leading the way, China remained the largest textile and apparel supplier to the US in July, with shipments up 5.92%. India, in second place, saw gains of 5.4%.

One of the biggest winners in the month was Bangladesh, whose US imports jumped 16.6%, continuing to suggest the country's factory safety issues have so far had no negative impact on orders.

But figures also suggest the back-to-school selling period got off to a slow start in August, as US apparel retailers turned to aggressive promotional activity to try to drive sales. A shift towards spending on durables, vehicles and housing is also starting to raise concerns for the upcoming holidays, the biggest selling season of the year.

Having long sat on fashion's sidelines, Australasia has generated significant interest of late. In particular, the region's relative resilience to the financial turmoil seen in much of the northern hemisphere has proved to be a key attraction for international retailers.

And prompted by issues raised by the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory complex in Bangladesh, work is underway to develop a new international labour standard for the global garment industry.  

The Garment Industries Transparency Initiative (GITI) has been proposed by Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus, and seeks to set out standards that not only improve conditions for factory workers, but also rank the efforts of individual companies. By doing so, it hopes to improve the sector's accountability and transparency and reassure buyers and consumers on factory working conditions.

As Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tagging has matured, its benefits for the apparel industry have become clear. In this month's management briefing, just-style looks at the latest innovations, opportunities for enhanced supply chain visibility and return on investment, increased accuracy in inventory management, protection against theft and counterfeits, and the impact of omni-channel retailing.

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