U.S. denim imports were down significantly in the first two months of the year, and March portends to be nothing short of a disaster.
U.S. companies imported 14.32 percent less blue denim apparel–97 percent of which is jeans–for the year to date through February for a value of $497.08 million. The drop-off was led by a 63 percent decline from China to $55.77 million, as factories shut down as coronavirus swept through the country. Many of those facilities are back in operations, but undoubtedly were shipping little merchandise in March as stores across the U.S. and Europe shut down and many retailers and brands cancelled orders from the bottoming out of consumer demand as the pandemic spread across the globe.
Top denim supplier Mexico saw its shipments–usually closer to need due to logistical proximity–to the U.S. plummet 27.2 percent in the first two months of the year to $91.98 million. Other suppliers among the Top 10 that registered declines in the period were Indonesia, with a decrease of 34.92 percent to $9.17 million, and Nicaragua, with a falloff of 2.99 percent to $13.85 million.
There were winners in denim import sourcing in the period, led by Bangladesh, with a 39.59 percent increase to $90.13 million, and Vietnam, with a gain of 30.17 percent to $65.25 million. This leapfrogged both countries over China in year-to-date jeans imports.
Cambodia also posted a major gain in the period, with its shipments to the U.S. skyrocketing 111.48 percent to $29.15 million. Small gains were also posted by Pakistan, Egypt and Sri Lanka among the top suppliers in the period.
All bets are off as to what jeans imports will look like for March and April. That’s because the COVID-19 pandemic has basically closed the supply-chain spigot. Factories in Bangladesh, India and Cambodia have shut down to help stop the spread of the disease, and U.S. importers are taking in little goods to fill what are basically only online orders.