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China Shipped 63% Less Denim to the US in Q1

Global tumult took a staggering toll on denim sourcing in Q1.

The combined effects of China factory closures in January from Lunar New year followed by the spread of the coronavirus in February into a global pandemic and the shutdown of most retail distribution in March led to dramatic declines and shifts in jeans sourcing in the first quarter.

In the year to date through March, U.S. companies imported 13.95 percent less blue denim apparel–95 percent of which are jeans–for a value of $697.51 million compared to the same period in 2019.

Jeans imports from China sank 63.11 percent in the three months to $67.79 million, bringing down its market share 37.83 percent for the 12 months through March to 16.01 percent, falling below Bangladesh into third place as a supplier to U.S. companies.

Top supplier Mexico saw its imports tumble 28.85 percent so far this year to a value of $138.89 million, with its market share for the year falling 11.52 percent to 20.61 percent. Imports from Bangladesh, where many factories were forced to close in March, increased 30.06 percent in the quarter, while its market share increased 8.77 percent to 16.96 percent.

The drop in imports follows sagging demand for apparel. As the coronavirus pandemic’s economic effects took hold, consumer spending on clothing and footwear fell a seasonally adjusted 28.2 percent in March to $2.91 billion, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Among other Top 10 Asian suppliers, imports from Vietnam jumped 35.09 percent in the quarter to $86.38 million, as its market share for the year gained 26.83 percent to 10.9 percent. Shipments from Pakistan were up 16.64 percent in the year to date to $62.83 million, Cambodian imports jumped 88.4 percent to $39.39 million and Sri Lanka’s improved 16.02 percent to $15.58 million, while imports from Indonesia fell 35.26 percent to $12.83 million.

Rounding out the Top 10 suppliers were Egypt, which saw its shipments decline 1.08 percent in the quarter to $34.39 million, and Nicaragua, posting a 5.1 percent decline to $23.22 million.