U.S. imports of footwear rose significantly in September, even as overall U.S. imports declined on a year-over-year basis. The relatively strong dollar, healthy footwear sector, and consumer demand for value continued to drive demand for product from Asia.
According to Commerce Department data released last week, U.S. footwear imports jumped by 9.6% compared to September 2014, to $2.58 billion, versus a 5.7% drop in overall goods and services imports in the month.
On a 12-month smoothed basis, which corrects for volatility of data in a particular month, footwear import growth was 9.8% in the month, its biggest monthly increase in more than two-and-a-half years.
China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Italy and India are the top sources of U.S. imported footwear so far this year, with Vietnam up by 26 percent to $3.28. billion year-to-date, Indonesia ahead by 19 percent to over $1 billion, and China ahead by only 3.6% percent to $13.4 billion. Imports from Italy have fallen 3 percent so far this year, to just over a billion dollars, evidence that the luxury sector has been a bit softer this year than last.
Footwear exports continued to outperform the total export market as well, increasing by 1.4% to $74 million, compared to a 5.9% drop in overall imports.
On a 12-month smoothed basis, footwear export growth slowed to 3.9%, its smallest monthly increase in more than a year.
Canada is the biggest market for U.S. footwear exports so far this year, comprising more than 23 percent of the total, followed by South Korea and Japan, with 10 percent and 8 percent, respectively.