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Supply-Chain Data Suggests Home Textiles Stealing Share From Apparel

Total U.S. seaborne imports of apparel, footwear and textiles showed some improvement in September, rising 0.8 percent year-over-year for the first time since September of last year, according to data from Panjiva.

By category, shipments of apparel and footwear fell by 1.6 percent and 17.0 percent year-over-year, respectively, while textiles spiked 18.9 percent.

Those data points suggest that supply chain might be retooling towards a focus on home use, rather than for apparel. “That can be seen in a 20.7 percent surge in imports of home textiles in [the third quarter], including a 361 percent surge in shipments linked to Welspun,” according to Panjiva, the supply-chain research unit of S&P Global Market Intelligence, referencing one of the recognized leaders in home textiles. For the same period, imports of winter apparel, which typically peak in the third quarter, fell by 21.1 percent versus a year earlier, including a 24.7 percent drop in shipments linked to Sumec Corp., a Chinese importer of bulk commodities including apparel and textiles.

The shift toward home and away from apparel has been growing through the coronavirus pandemic.

Covid-19 has kept many professionals hunching over laptops at home instead of the office, driving shoppers to invest in their surroundings instead of work-appropriate attire. That has also been corroborated by a rise in shipments of athleisure apparel, while imports of suits and shirts have dropped 17.6 percent. Even spending on apparel for kids has slowed—imports were down by 18.1 percent year-over-year in the third quarter—as parents faced uncertainties over what the school year would bring.

What all these changes have meant for the supply chain in apparel, footwear and textiles will be part of a panel discussion at Sourcing Journal’s Virtual Sourcing Summit this week. The panel on “Economic Outlook: The State of Prices, Spending and Market Conditions” will feature Chris Rogers, global trade and logistics analyst for Panjiva, as well as Sarah House, senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities, and Michael Brown, partner at consulting firm Kearney on Thurs., Oct. 15, from 11:10 a.m. to 11:55 a.m. Secure your ticket here.