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US Apparel Imports Dip in June, China’s Share Loss Slows

The United States imported more apparel in June than in May, but year over year, imports are down.

Recently released data from the Commerce Department’s Office of Textiles and Apparel (OTEXA) showed apparel imports were down 1.3% from June last year to 2.30 billion square meter equivalents (SMEs).

Textile imports fell in the month too, sliding 0.9% to 3.23 billion SMEs.

In dollar terms, total textile and apparel imports were $9.13 billion, a 6.4% decline year over year.

The decline in imports from China slowed in June to 3.3% compared to May’s 5.5% dip, though the country still gave the U.S. seven times more apparel than India, the second largest exporter to the U.S.

Imports from India were up 3.1% year-over year (though also lower than in May) to 391 million SMEs. Indonesia lost the biggest share of the U.S. apparel import market, falling 11 percent from 2015 to 137.2 million SMEs.

Mexico had the best month among the top 10 exporters, sending the U.S. 4.6% more apparel, or 214 million SMEs in June 2016 than June 2015, but year over year, Mexico’s apparel and textiles exports to the U.S. are down 4.5%.

Bangladesh remains the sixth largest exporter of apparel and textile to the U.S., sending 2.3% more goods in June and 11.2% more year over year, though growth slowed in the first half compared to the prior year period.

Numbers should be up across the board in August as retailers start to stock up on holiday merchandise.

“Shoppers are right in the middle of buying back-to-school products but the retail supply chain is already preparing for the holiday season,” Jonathan Gold, NRF’s vice president for supply chain and customs policy, said in a statement. “August is the peak month of the annual shipping season that builds up to the winter holidays, and a lot of the merchandise consumers will be buying this fall is already showing up at the docks.”

According to NRF’s latest Global Port Tracker report, the country’s major ports handled 1.58 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in June, down 0.5% year over year. Estimates for July were 1.64 million TEU, a 1.5% jump, and August is expected to see 1.68 million TEUs at the ports, a 0.3% decline from last year.