Skip to main content

US Footwear Imports from China Falter as Vietnam’s Rise in First Quarter

U.S. footwear imports in the first quarter of the year continued to show changing sourcing patterns brought on by political and economic issues.

China’s shipments fell 8.2 percent to $3.24 billion in the year to date through March, keeping its spot as the top supplier, with a 50.7 percent market share in value for the period. This was down, however, from a 53 percent import share in all of 2018.

Vietnam, the No. 2 supplier of footwear to the U.S., saw its shipments rise 12.6 percent to $1.61 billion in the period. This gave Vietnam a 25.2 percent share of U.S. footwear imports in the quarter, compared to a 23.5 percent share in 2018.

Overall category imports declined 0.3 percent in the January to March period to a value of $6.39 billion, likely held down by tepid retail sales and the lower Chinese shipments. China has seen its shipments of footwear and apparel slowly falloff in the past year in the midst of the tariff-fueled U.S.-China trade war.

Companies have been spreading out their sourcing to avoid risk and control costs. With the potential for 25 percent tariffs on Chinese footwear imports on the board, more drastic changes could lie ahead.

The Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA) said in its monthly analysis that “duties remain problematic for the industry, reaching $215.9 million in February, the second-biggest February on record.” Average duties per pair on U.S. footwear imports reached $1.15 per pair, the highest March on record, according to FDRA.

Among secondary suppliers, imports from Indonesia rose 8.5 percent to $424.11 million in the quarter, Italy’s stepped up 6.9 percent to $372.38 million and Cambodia’s increased 18.2 percent to $105.8 million. Rounding out the Top 10 suppliers, declines were seen from Mexico and Spain, while Brazil and Germany saw gains.

Athletic footwear imports were up 10.8 percent in March compared to April, according to FDRA, led by a rebound in shipments from China. Imports of boots rose 4.3 percent in the month, as strong shipments from Vietnam and Indonesia offset a drop from China.