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Value and Volume of US Footwear Imports Drop for 15th Straight Month

Driven down in great part from the economic conditions caused by Covid-19, U.S. footwear imports fell 23.8 percent to a value of $17.99 billion for the year through November compared to $23.6 billion for the same period in 2019, the Commerce Department’s Office of Textiles & Apparel (OTEXA) reported in its monthly update.

China has taken the biggest hit, with its shipments to the U.S. falling 35.9 percent in the 11-month period to $7.32 billion. China’s decline can also be attributed to companies revising their sourcing plans during the tariff-fueled U.S.-China trade war, choosing alterative places to produce their footwear to minimize risks and costs

The next three top footwear suppliers–Vietnam, Indonesia and Italy–saw smaller year-to-date declines through November. Imports from No. 2 Vietnam decreased 5.6 percent to $5.89 billion, shipments from Indonesia fell 19.1 percent to $1.23 billion and Italian imports were down 17 percent to $1.41 billion.

No. 5 supplier Cambodia was the only supplier in the Top 10 that posted a year-to-date increase through November, with its imports rising 6.8 percent to $438.69 million,

For the month, U.S. footwear imports extended their streak of declines, sinking in volume and value terms to the lowest November in several years, according to data analysis from the Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America (FDRA). The volume of footwear fell 3.8 percent, declining for the 15th straight month.

The value of total footwear imports dropped 8 percent in November compared to a year earlier, also lower for the 15th consecutive month. FDRA said with the value of imports sinking faster than the volume, the average landed cost of footwear imports slipped 8.8 percent in November.

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“With reporting for only one month left in 2020, the year is all but certain to see sharply lower imports, but higher average import costs per pair,” FDRA said. “Duties remain problematic for the industry, reaching $216.2 million in November.” Trump duties applied against footwear from China remain the key culprit behind the jump in duties per pair in 2020. FDRA expects full-year average duties per pair from the world could climb to a record high of $1.43 in 2020, up some 8 percent from last year.

Athletic footwear imports were down 4.2 percent year to year in November, the 13th straight drop, according to FDRA, to the lowest November since 1998, as shipments from China and Indonesia both retreated sharply. Bootwear imports reversed 10 straight months of double-digit losses to rebound 2 percent, despite another steep drop in shipments from China.

“On balance, given the broad-based November losses, lingering Trump tariffs and coronavirus sapping consumer demand, we maintain our view that full-year shipments will decline sharply in 2020, while duties may sink relatively modestly from last year’s record $3.3 billion,” FDRA added.