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US Footwear Imports Rise 4.2% Year-to-Date; China Still Dominates with 70% Share of US Market

Year-to-date footwear imports rose 4.2% in the first nine months of 2013 compared to the same period last year, and have increased 2.9% in units. The average cost for a pair of imported footwear has grown 1.3% so far this year, to $10.05.

Total monthly footwear imports were flat in September compared to a year ago at $2.1 billion, their ninth month in a row of decelerating growth. The dollar value of footwear imports, which normally peak in July, have seen declining year-on-year growth in each of the last nine months.

On a 12-month smoothed basis, footwear imports grew by 3.8% in September, less than August’s 4.8% increase, continuing their decline from early 2013.

Footwear exports dropped 13.2% compared to last year, to $62 million, their biggest monthly drop since the recession. The biggest U.S. export markets for footwear are Canada, South Korea and Japan.

Though it has lost almost three percentage points of share of the US footwear market so far this year, China remains by far the dominant footwear supplier to the US, with an almost 70% share of total shoe, boot, slipper and sandal imports. Vietnam, despite gaining almost two points of share, remains a distant second, at 11.5% of the total.

China as lost 2.9 percentage points of share, primarily to second-largest supplier Vietnam, which is in second place so far this year, with 11.5% of year-to-date footwear imports.

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The average cost per pair for footwear imported from China so far this year is $8.53, 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 28%, to $890 million. Imports from Brazil have seen the biggest decline in the first nine months of 2013, down 8% to $147 million.

Not surprisingly, Italy supplies the priciest footwear, at $83.45 per pair so far this year, up 4.6% over the same period last year. In the first nine months of this year, the U.S. imported $940 million dollars worth, a 7% increase over last year. Almost 85% of the footwear from Italy is made of leather.