U.S. apparel imports continued to soar in August, reaching a record high for the second straight month and topping $10 billion for the first time ever, according to Commerce Department data released last week.
Total apparel imports rose by 8.7% over August 2014, to $10.1 billion on a CIF basis.
With retail apparel sales growing at between 1 and 2 percent this year, the data are evidence that imports continue to gain share from domestically-produced apparel despite the prevailing folklore that U.S.-made clothing is a growing trend.
The apparel import increase contrasted sharply with total U.S. imports in the month, which fell by 3.1% to $192 billion despite the purchasing power of the stronger U.S. dollar.
On a 12-month smoothed basis, which corrects for volatility of data in a particular month, apparel import growth was 5.6% in August, its biggest monthly jump in almost four years.
China, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Indonesia and India are the top five sources of U.S. imported apparel so far this year.
Apparel exports outperformed the total export market as well, falling by 7.5% compared to last August, to $522 million, while total U.S. exports of goods and services plunged by 10.5%. On a 12-month smoothed basis, apparel exports increased by 2 percent, their smallest monthly increase in almost two years.