Blog: Leonie BarrieUS retailers stock up amid tariff threat

Leonie Barrie | 14 May 2018

Apparel imports into the US took a tumble in March, with double-digit declines from three of the top ten supplier countries. While the results reflect Lunar New Year factory shutdowns in Asia, China – the US's largest clothing provider – still managed to book growth for the month.

US Imports are expected to grow steadily throughout the summer as retailers stock up amid the looming prospect of tariffs on goods from China. Even though the tariffs have yet to be imposed, merchandise could cost considerably more if they do take effect – and there's no quick or easy way to switch suppliers.

A report analysing the performance of US companies on a range of sustainability criteria has found footwear and apparel firms are lagging behind in terms of investor engagement on sustainability, notably with regard to water-related risks.

While starting from next year, the French Government is planning to crack down on garment and textile waste by ensuring that unsold products are neither thrown away nor destroyed.

Criteria to improve the safety of Bangladesh's garment factories and workers have still not been met, according to the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, with too many life-threatening hazards still remaining.

Online clothing and footwear sales are set to continue to rise at a rapid pace over the next few years – yet constant innovation is key if retailers are to remain relevant in this fast-changing environment. Here are seven key trends set to have a significant impact on the online marketplace in the future.

But lean supply chains built on securing the best quality, the lowest price, and the shortest lead time are out of kilter with the demands of onmi-channel retailing, where agility is key.

Meanwhile, Li & Fung is partnering with US robotics firm Softwear Automation to create its first fully-digital apparel supply chain. The initial focus will be on T-shirts, with potential to expand to other product categories in the future.

And in other news, Delta Galil is to buy French premium undergarment maker Eminence Group; analysts say 2018 is set to be yet another dismal year for UK fashion retailers; and Norwegian outdoor clothing brand Helly Hansen has been acquired by Canadian retail group CTC in a US$1bn deal.

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