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US Footwear Imports Step Down as China’s Shipments Fall 9 Percent, but Vietnam’s Rise Continues

The value of U.S. footwear imports declined from China, Mexico and Germany in the first two months of the year, while all the other countries among the top 10 suppliers posted increases, according to the Commerce Department’s Office of Textiles & Apparel (OTEXA).

Footwear imports from China fell 9 percent to $2.43 billion this year through February compared to the same period in 2018, while Mexico’s shipments dipped 2.9 percent to $54.17 million in the same period.

Overall footwear imports reaching the U.S. also decreased in year-to-year comparisons, dropping 1.9 percent in value to $4.61 billion through February, according to OTEXA, potentially the result of a slowdown in the U.S. economy and retailers looking to keep inventories tight after a difficult holiday selling period. According to analysis from the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA), the average landed cost of footwear imports rose 4.2 percent, as volume fell at a faster pace than the value of shipments.

This followed a similar pattern in apparel imports, where shipments from China and Mexico have been soft and have been linked to the U.S.-China tariff-fueled trade dispute and the uncertainty of Mexico’s duty-free status as the U.S., Mexico and Canada renegotiated the North American Free Trade Agreement into the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which is still pending legislative ratification.

Several countries continue to benefit from the shifting trade winds, from Asia to Europe and the Western Hemisphere. Footwear imports from Vietnam, the number two supplier, rose 8.7 percent in value to $1.12 billion in year-to-date comparisons–pushed by the biggest February on record, FDRA noted.

Among other Asian suppliers, Indonesia’s shipments increased 6.7 percent in the period to $271.94 million, as imports from India rose 11.2 percent to $67.61 million and shipments from Cambodia were up 8.2 percent to $64.19 million.

Upscale footwear supplier Italy saw its imports into the U.S. grow 4.4 percent to a value of $238.84 million, while Spain’s shipments stepped up 1.6 percent to $44.17 million and Germany’s declined 2.2 percent to $34.74 million. Rounding out the top 10, imports from Brazil jumped 27 percent to $39.82 million.

Athletic footwear imports dropped 9.4 percent in February, according to FDRA’s analysis, as China’s shipments in the category fell by double-digits. Bootwear imports inched up 0.6 percent increase, as a 13.1 percent gain from Vietnam offset a 14.1 percent decline from China.