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US Footwear Imports Slide Continued in May, Led by China’s 38% Decline

As demand continued to wane from pandemic-depressed consumers and merchants, the slide in U.S. footwear imports went on unabated in May, according to the U.S. Commerce Department’s Office of Textiles & Apparel (OTEXA).

For the first five months of the year, footwear imports dropped 25.15 percent in value compared to the same period in 2019 to $7.71 billion, OTEXA data showed. Among the Top 10 suppliers, only Cambodia and Germany posted increases in shipments to the U.S–Cambodia’s rose 19.1 percent to $199.34 million and Germany’s were up 17.3 percent to $65.81 million.

Footwear imports from top supplier China fell 38 percent in value year to date through May to $3.08 billion compared to the year-ago period, while shipments from No. 2 Vietnam declined 0.55 percent to $2.59 billion. Combined, China and Vietnam still accounted for 73.5 percent of U.S. footwear import market share.

No. 3 supplier Italy, known for its leather dress shoes, saw its imports drop 36.13 percent to $396.32 million. The rest of the Top 10 suppliers–India, Mexico, Spain and Bangladesh–all suffered moderate to substantial drop-offs in shipments to the U.S. in the five-month period compared to last year.

U.S. footwear imports also fell sharply in May compared to a year earlier, sinking in volume and value to the lowest in years, due in part to the impact from the coronavirus outbreak and from continued surges in duty costs, according to an analysis by the Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America (FDRA).

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The volume of footwear imports during the month fell a year-over-year 49.4 percent, declining for the ninth straight month and representing the largest decrease in more than 25 years, FDRA said. A 53.5 percent decline in shipments from China outpaced a 43.3 percent drop from Vietnam and a 30.2 percent decrease from Indonesia, while imports from the rest of the world plunged 51.6 percent.

The value of footwear imports fell 47.9 percent in the month compared to May 2019, dropping for the ninth straight month and the biggest decline in more than 25 years.

Tariffs remain problematic for the industry, FDRA said, reaching $159.5 million in May.

“Trump duties applied 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 shrank 0.4 percent in May from a year earlier, duties per pair from China jumped 32 percent, the ninth straight month of double-digit surges.”

FDRA expects full-year average tariffs per pair from the world could climb to a record high of $1.64 in 2020, up around 22 percent from last year.