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US Footwear Imports on the Rise, China’s Share on the Decline

U.S. footwear imports increased 6.5 percent in value and 3.1 percent in volume in November, as China’s shipments continued to slip.

Footwear imports from China declined 0.3 percent in the first 11 months of 2018 to $12.9 billion worth of goods, compared to increases of 14.1 percent to $5.66 billion from Vietnam, 5.1 percent to $1.44 billion from Indonesia and 12.9 percent to $1.4 billion from Italy–the next three largest suppliers, according to the Commerce Department’s Office of Textiles and Apparel.

According to the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA), footwear imports from China were down 0.7 percent in November and have declined seven of the last nine months. FDRA’s monthly analysis noted that China’s share of U.S. footwear imports stands at its lowest since 1997. More recently, footwear imports from China peaked at $16.86 billion in 2015, 16.9 percent higher than in 2017.

The volume increase in November was led by a 12.7 percent gain from Indonesia and a 9.8 percent rise from Vietnam, where shipments have increased 30 of the last 31 months, according FDRA’s monthly report.

FDRA said import duties “remain problematic for the industry,” with duties per pair on U.S. footwear imports for the year through November coming in higher compared to the same period in 2017.

“This evidence supports our long-held view that full-year average duties per pair are poised to climb again in 2018 to an unprecedented high,” FDRA said in its monthly report.

China still holds a 69.3 percent market share, but second-place Vietnam continues to grow its shipments at a faster rate. Vietnam, according to FDRA, is on a pace to continue as the market share leader in rubber/fabric footwear to the U.S. market this year.

The expanding athletic footwear category saw imports jump 1.7 percent in November, driven by a 12.9 percent gain from Indonesia. Stocking up for the winter, boot imports rose 11.8 percent, also boosted by a 30.2 percent increase from Indonesia.

Next tier suppliers showing notable gains included Mexico, with shipments rising 24.9 percent to a value of $427.2 million; Cambodia, with a 26.6 percent increase to $303.2 million; and Germany, which saw the value of its shipments gain 29.1 percent to $155.06 million.