Skip to main content

West Coast Port Congestion Hurt January Apparel Imports

Apparel imports fell in January compared to last year, and continued to underperform overall imports, hurt by the nine-month West Coast port slowdown.

According to just-released data from the Commerce Department, apparel imports fell by 4.6% in the month from the prior year, to almost $7.5 billion, despite the continued strength in the U.S. currency, which tends to make imported goods less expensive. The drop in apparel was steeper than that of all U.S. goods and services imports, which fell by 3 percent to $181 billion.


On a 12-month smoothed basis, which corrects for volatility of data in a particular month, apparel import growth was 1.3% in January, a big drop from December’s 2.4% increase.


China, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Mexico were the biggest sources of U.S. imported apparel in the month, with Vietnam the only top-five country enjoying year-on-year growth.

Apparel exports continued to outperform the total export market, however, increasing by 3.9% to $454 million. Overall exports of goods and services plunged by 5.1% in the month, hurt by the continuing strength of the strong dollar. On a 12-month smoothed basis, however, apparel export growth slowed to 5.8% percent, a bit below December’s 6 percent increase.


Canada was the biggest market for U.S. apparel exports, followed by Mexico, the U.K., Japan and Honduras.