U.S. footwear imports kept up their rapid pace in April, slightly surpassing the first quarter increase and rising 25.5 percent year to date compared to the first four months of 2021 to reach 893.28 million pairs.
Strong consumer demand continues to fuel high import growth rates. Despite concerns that inflation would keep shoppers from burning through their disposable income, consumer spending on clothing and footwear increased a seasonally adjusted 1.9 percent in April from the prior month to $505.4 billion, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Increases were seen by all Top 10 footwear suppliers in April’s year to date data released by the Commerce Department’s Office of Textile & Apparel (OTEXA). Most notably, imports from No. 2 supplier Vietnam were back in the black after months of year-over-year declined due to backlogs from Covid-induced factory closures.
Shipments from Vietnam entering U.S. ports were up 5.6 percent in the period to 190.33 million pairs. This compared to a decline of 4.5 percent year over year to 131.15 million pairs in the first quarter, according to OTEXA.
China remained the top footwear manufacturer for U.S. brands and retailers, but its rate of imports slowed in April. For the first four months of the year, shipments from China rose 30.5 percent to 543.43 million pairs. This compared to an increase of 34.5 percent year over year in the first quarter, as sourcing executives continue to try to diversify production while a move to cut tariffs seems to be moving closer to ease inflation.
DSW parent Designer Brands Inc. has said it’s planning to scale back manufacturing in China. At the company’s annual Investor Day in April, Bill Jordan, president and chief growth officer, said the owner of DSW has committed to cut its percentage of China-sourced goods from 80 percent to 50 percent by 2024.
Along that same path, combined imports from China and Vietnam in the four-month period totaled 82.1 percent, dipping from the 83.2 percent U.S. import market share in the first quarter, according to OTEXA data. Rounding out the Top 10, second-tier countries Indonesia and Cambodia continued to see their shipments grow, as did third-tier suppliers India, Italy, Mexico, Brazil, Bangladesh and Germany.