U.S. apparel imports dropped in November, further evidence of the declining consumer demand that has retailers and brands curtailing their orders from overseas factories.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, total U.S. goods and services imports increased by 5 percent in November to $193 billion compared to the same month in 2015, while exports rose by 2.2% to almost $124 billion.
Apparel imports dropped by 3.4% in the month, to $6.8 billion on a CIF basis, their ninth straight month of year-over-year decline.
The average cost per square meter of apparel imports has fallen by more than 4 percent in the year to November 2016 compared to 2015. Apparel brands have negotiated cost reductions in order to enhance profitability amid the highly competitive and promotional apparel market, and as off-pricers and e-commerce players continue to gain share from traditional retailers.
Apparel exports plunged by 11 percent in October, to $474 million. Total apparel exports on an FAS dollar basis have fallen every month this year so far compared to the same period in 2015.
Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom remain the top trading partners, together representing more than half of all U.S. apparel exports. Exports to The United Arab Emirates and Netherlands have grown the fastest in 2016.