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U.S. Footwear Imports Recover in November

After stumbling in little in October, footwear imports rose 5.1% in November compared to the same month last year, to $1.7 billion.


On a 12-month smoothed basis, however, import growth in the category slowed to 2.8%, the lowest rate of increase in over three and a half years.

Footwear exports dropped 1.5% compared to last year, to $72 million. The biggest U.S. export markets for footwear are Canada, South Korea and Japan.

Cumulative footwear imports rose 3.9% for the first eleven months of 2013 compared to the same period last year, and have increased 2.3% in units. The average cost for a pair of imported footwear grew 1.6% in the period, to $10.32.

Though it lost almost three percentage points of share of the US, China remains by far the dominant footwear supplier to the US, with an over 69% share of total shoe, boot, slipper and sandal imports. Vietnam, despite gaining almost two points of share, remains a distant second, at 11.6% of the total.

The average cost per pair for footwear imported from China so far this year is $8.76, 15% below the overall average, and slightly below the average cost during the same period last year. Approximately 40% of the footwear from China is made of leather, with the balance made mostly of synthetic materials.

Vietnam has enjoyed a 21% increase in the dollar amount of footwear shipped to the US this year compared to last, and an almost equal growth in units.

Imports from Indonesia, the third largest source of U.S. footwear, have grown the fastest of the top trading partners, at 25%, to $1 billion. Imports from Spain represented the only decline in the first eleven months of 2013, down 6% to $179 million year-to-date.

Not surprisingly, Italy supplies the priciest footwear, at $79.46 per pair, up 2.3% over the same period last year. In the first nine months of this year, the U.S. imported $1.2 billion worth, a 8.5% increase over last year. Almost 85% of the footwear from Italy is made of leather.