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US Footwear Imports From China Slide 34% Through April

Driven down by the coronavirus pandemic’s economic fallout and a buildup of tariffs from the trade war with China, U.S. footwear imports fell 19.1 percent for the year through April compared to the year-earlier period to a value of $6.58 billion, the U.S Commerce Department’s Office of Textile & Apparel (OTEXA) reported.

Leading the decline was China, where the COVID-19 outbreak began and caused factory closures for an extended period. Imports from the still-top supplier declined 34.2 percent to $2.65 billion in the year-over-year period, but it was joined by six of the other Top 10 countries where U.S. firms sourced their goods in posting decreases for the four months, according to OTEXA data.

Footwear imports from Vietnam, the No. 2 supplier, increased 3.8 percent year to date through April to a value of $2.16 billion. It was joined by Cambodia, with a gain of 30 percent to $176.04 million, and Germany, up 13.7 percent to $66.04 million, as the only other Top 10 suppliers to have increases in the period.

The rest of the top suppliers–Indonesia, Italy, India, Mexico, Brazil and Spain–all saw their shipments into the U.S. drop in the midst of the pandemic, as brands and retailers slashed shipments to curtail inventories during widespread store closures and decreased consumer spending.

U.S. footwear imports fell significantly for the month of April, falling in volume and value to the lowest in years, the Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America (FDRA) said in its monthly analysis.

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The volume of footwear imported during the month dropped 30.6 percent, lower for the eighth straight month and the second-biggest tumble in more than four years, FDRA noted. A 40.5 percent decline in shipments from China outweighed smaller decreases from Vietnam and Indonesia, while imports from the rest of the world sank 31.3 percent, according to FDRA analysis.

The value of footwear imports was down 31.7 percent in April from a year earlier, which was also lower for the eighth straight month and the biggest drop in four years.

FDRA said duties, which reached $163.3 million in April, remain problematic for the industry. Duties applied by President Trump against footwear from China “are the key culprit behind the jump in duties per pair the last several months,” FDRA said. While average duties per pair from the rest of the world fell 5.1 percent in April from a year earlier, duties per pair from China jumped 22.5 percent, the eighth straight month of double-digit surges.

Bootwear imports fell 25.9 percent to the lowest month in 12 years, as shipments from China, Vietnam and Indonesia all declined. Athletic footwear imports stepped back 19.3 percent to a seven-year low, FDRA noted, as shipments from China fell to the lowest month since 1998.

“On balance, given the broad-based April losses, lingering Trump tariffs, and coronavirus fallout on both sides of the Pacific, we maintain our view that full-year shipments will retreat sharply in 2020, while duties may rival last year’s record of $3.3 billion,” FDRA added.