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Textile Makers Saw 9% Sales Decline in 2020, but Outlook Brightens

The seventh International Textile Manufacturers Federation (ITMF) Coronavirus Impact Survey revealed that global textile sales dropped 9 percent in 2020 compared to 2019, making it one of the worst years in history for the global textile and apparel industry.

However, companies see light at the end of the pandemic tunnel.

Conducted between Jan. 25 and March 10 among ITMF members and affiliated companies and associations, 196 companies responded when asked about the impact the pandemic has had on the global textile value chain. The first ITMF “Corona-Survey” was conducted in March 2020 when the first lockdowns were announced in Europe.

While this sales decrease was significantly better than the expected drop of 33 percent in the third survey at the height of the first virus wave in April 2020, the year 2020 will go down into history as one of the worst years for the global textile and apparel industry, ITMF said.

In comparison to the expectations expressed in the sixth ITMF survey conducted from Nov. 20 to Dec. 14, actual sales for 2020 compared to 2019 improved 3 percentage points from 12 percent.

“As could be expected, the entire textile value chain was hit hard by the pandemic, including textile machinery producers,” ITMF said. “Practically all segments under review were impacted negatively to different degrees in 2020.”

The two segments standing out positively were fiber manufacturers, with a 10 percent increase, and producers of nonwovens, with flat sales.

“It can be assumed that those two segments have benefitted from the extraordinary demand for masks during 2020, which compensated to a significant extent for the loss in other areas like automotive or apparel,” ITMF said. “For 2021 and the following years up to 2024, turnover expectations are positive and have overall not changed compared to previous surveys.”

On a global level, sales expectations are especially strong for 2021 and 2022, an indication that companies are expecting a strong recovery, ITMF noted. For 2023 and 2024, companies’ growth expectations are weaker.

Looking at the various regions, the most positive outlook was from companies in Africa, with a 31 percent gain projected compared to the other regions that range between 12 percent and 21 percent gains.