U.S. apparel imports grew 2.8% in December, slightly lagging November’s 3% increase. Imports from Vietnam continued their double-digit growth, however, and continued to gain share of the U.S. apparel market.
Growth in the apparel sector under-performed that of total goods and services imports, which rose by 3.1%, according to the most current U.S. Department of Commerce data. There was a significant decline in imports of automotive vehicles and parts, but this failed to offset the increases in imports of consumer goods and industrial supplies and materials.
Total apparel imports (on a CIF basis) for the full year in 2013 were $91 billion, up 3.8% from 2012’s $87.7 billion. Total apparel exports in the year were $5.8 billion, a 3.6% increase over 2012’s total of $5.6 billion.
In December, total apparel imports were $6.6 billion for the month, a slight drop from November’s $6.9 billion, but up from $6.4 billion in December 2012.
China, Vietnam and Indonesia were the biggest sources of U.S. apparel in the month. Imports from China totaled $2 billion, flat with the same month last year. Apparel from Vietnam totaled $628 million, up 19% from December of 2012. Indonesia, though the third largest source of U.S. apparel in the month at $311 million, experienced a 19% decline in apparel imports on a dollar basis, while imports from Bangladesh rose 3.9% to $296 million.
On a 12-month smoothed basis, which corrects for volatility of data in a particular month, apparel imports gained 3.9%, slightly below last month’s 4.1% increase.
Apparel exports rose negligibly to $420 million in December, compared to a slight dip in total goods and services exports. Canada, Mexico, Japan, the United Kingdom, Honduras and United Arab Emirates are key export customers for U.S.-made apparel, with 2013 exports to the UK and UAE up 11% and 14% compared to 2012, respectively, and those to Japan down 7%.