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Apparel Beats Overall Import Growth in September

Growth in apparel imports continued to outpace that of all goods and services in September, continuing the trend begun in September 2012, according to data released this morning by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Total apparel imports (on a CIF basis) were $8.5 billion for the month, a 2.9% increase over September of last year and a drop from August’s $9.1 billion. Apparel imports grew faster than total goods and services imports, which increased 2.4%, due largely to increases in industrial supplies and automotive vehicles and parts.

Even more important than the monthly year-over-year figures, which are often impacted by cut-off dates and other seasonal factors, is the fact that on a 12-month smoothed basis, apparel imports gained 3.9%, their sixth straight month of accelerating growth.

Apparel exports rose 2.1% to $499 million in September, surging ahead of total goods and services exports but way below August’s $542 million. Canada, Mexico, Japan and the United Kingdom remain key export customers for U.S.—made apparel.