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Apparel Imports Soar in June

Apparel import growth accelerated in June, bucking the trend of overall goods and services imports, which fell sharply, according to just-released Department of Commerce data.

Total apparel imports on a CIF basis gained 3.6% compared to June 2012, to $7.2 billion. On a 12-month smoothed basis, they increased by 2.4%, well ahead of both May’s and April’s rates, and the biggest gain in 14 months.

Imports of all goods and services plunged by 3.7% compared to June 2012, due primarily to decreases in imports of oil, automobiles and parts, consumer goods, capital goods and industrial supplies. Exports rose by 1.2% which, coupled with the decrease in imports, caused the U.S. trade deficit to plummet 15% to $50 billion on a balance of payments basis.

Apparel exports fell by .8%, to $450 million. The United Kingdom, Netherlands and United Arab Emirates have seen significant increases in apparel imported from the U.S., while exports to Mexico and Chile have fallen the most.

Footwear imports rose 3.1% in June compared to a year ago, almost double May’s rate, and on a 12-month smoothed basis gained 6% which, compared to the last several months, indicates an intensifying slowdown in the category.

China is the biggest source of U.S. footwear, representing more than two-thirds of U.S. footwear imports, followed by Vietnam and Indonesia.

Footwear exports plunged 7.7%, to $60 million. The biggest U.S. export markets for footwear are Canada, South Korea and Japan.