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Report: Apparel and Footwear Contributed $361 billion to the U.S. Economy in 2013

On average, Americans each spent $1,141 to purchase 64 garments and 7.5 pairs of shoes in 2013, more than any other country in the world, according to Apparel Stats 2014 and ShoeStats 2014 reports released by the Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA). The reports examine the business and trade information related to U.S. apparel and footwear consumption, production, employment, imports and retail prices.

AAFA president and CEO Juanita D. Duggan said, “The industry continued to fire on all cylinders in 2013. As a result, apparel and footwear contributed a record $361 billion to the U.S. economy in 2013, a bigger contribution than new cars, alcohol, toys, or practically any other industry.”

In 2013 every American, including every man, woman and child in the U.S., spent on average $907 on apparel, totaling $286.8 billion. Despite the record-breaking numbers, apparel prices, which were up 0.9% from 2012’s average, remained three percent below 1999 levels, while overall retail prices jumped 40 percent over the same period.

On the job front, the report revealed more dismaying numbers. The U.S. apparel industry directly employed 2.8 million workers in the U.S., down 2.3% from 2012. The decrease was due, in part, to fewer jobs in the apparel retail and manufacturing sectors. However, U.S. apparel production grew, up 6.2% over 2012, and domestic production share rose slightly to 2.55%.

Still, the volume of U.S. apparel imports increased 4.9% last year, and the report indicated that China continues to be the dominant supplier of apparel in the U.S., accounting for 41.7% of apparel imports, a rate unchanged from 2012. Vietnam was second, providing 9.8% of U.S. apparel imports.

In 2013, countries in the CAFTA-DR agreement lost notable market share, accounting for 11.8% of U.S. apparel imports, 12.3% less compared to the year prior, the report noted.

Duggan said, “The fact remains that the U.S. apparel and footwear market is dependent on international trade.” She added, “Therefore, we call on Congress and the Obama administration to take immediate action on long-pending trade legislation and trade agreements to help the industry’s 4 million U.S. workers, and the country’s 316 million consumers.”