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Footwear Imports Flat in December but Up 3.7% for Year

Footwear imports slowed in December, but made moderate gains in 2013, according to data released by the U.S. Office of Textiles and Apparel (OTEXA).

Total footwear imports were flat in December 2013 compared to December 2012, at $1.875 billion, but were up slightly from November’s $1.7 billion.

On a 12-month smoothed basis, import growth in the category slowed to 2%, the lowest rate of increase in over three and a half years.

Footwear exports plunged 6.5% compared to December of 2012, to $58 million. The biggest U.S. export markets for footwear are Canada, South Korea and Japan.


After falling 1% in 2012, total U.S. footwear imports rose 3.7% in 2013, to $24.1 billion. Units increased by 2%, driving the average cost for a pair of imported footwear up by 1.7%, to $10.39.

Though it lost more than three percentage points of share of the U.S. footwear import market, China remains by far the dominant footwear supplier to the U.S., with an almost 69% share of total shoe, boot, slipper and sandal imports. Vietnam, despite gaining 170 basis points of market share, remains a distant second, at 11.9% of the total.

The average cost per pair for footwear imported from China in 2013 was $8.78, 15% below the overall average, but even with 2012. Approximately 40% of the footwear from China is made of leather, with the balance made mostly of synthetic materials.

Vietnam enjoyed a 20.5% increase in the dollar amount of footwear shipped to the U.S. in 2013 compared to 2012, and a 20% increase in units. The average cost of a unit from Vietnam was virtually flat at $12.50, 20% higher than the overall imported footwear average.

Not surprisingly, Italy supplies the priciest footwear, at $79.92 per pair, up 3% over the same period last year. In 2013, the U.S. imported $1.3 billion worth from Italy, a 10% increase over the previous year. Almost 85% of the footwear from Italy is made of leather.

Imports from Indonesia, the fourth largest source of U.S. footwear, have grown the fastest of the top trading partners, increasing 23% to $1.1 billion in 2013. The average cost per pair from Indonesia was $22.6 in 2013, up 2.3% from 2012, and almost 30% above average.