US Fabric Imports Up , Apparel Imports Down in 2012 !

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fabric up apparel downThe first five months of 2012 have seen an interesting trend in the US market. Whereas , the imports of denim apparel have been down 10.4% , the imports of denim fabric has been up 25% !!

The imports of denim apparel into US are not showing any signs of recovery. There is a continuous fall in imports since late 2011 and it continues well into May 2012. There has been a fall in the volumes , though the prices continue to rise – showing the continued effect of rising costs of production in exporting countries.  The fall in Jan-May is depicted below :

Jan-May Million pcs Value (US$ billion) Average Price (US$/pc)
2011 176 1.379 $7.83
2012 157.8 1.314 $8.33
Change -10.4% -4.7% +6.37%

On the other hand, we see that the denim fabric imports into US have increased in the same period by a significant number of  about 23% .

Jan-May Million sq mtrs Value ($ million)  Avg. Price (US$/ sq mtr)
2011 11.37 36.82 3.23
2012 14 42.93 3.06
Change +23.4% +16.6% -5.25%

It feel strange looking at such figures since fabric imports have been on a general decline for a  long time and the jeans imports had been strong for about 7-8 years.  The prices of jeans have been rising ever since the cotton prices rose and they still keep on rising . The major suppliers including China, Bangladesh have experienced increase in prices (source data section at Denimsandjeans.com )

The increase in denim fabric imports could be temporary , but it is still interesting to see that there is an effort to do more manufacturing in US or nearby countries (near sourcing). Another indication of this trend (as shown in tables below) is that one of the countries near US has gained significantly in terms of denim apparel exports to US even as others experienced serious falls.

It would be interesting to see where do which countries are losing in terms of jeans exports or which countries are gaining in terms of fabric imports into US. Lets see the analysis below in tables for :21.62

  • Table showing the top  10 exporting countries  in denim apparel and their respective loss or gains in volumes and values during the Jan – May 2011/2012 period.
  • Table showing top gainers in fabric exports.
  • Table showing Men’s vs  women’s denim apparel  – a comparison to understand which category contributed more to the fall.

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Denim Apparel Imports into US from various countries Jan-May 2011 vs 2012

Country 2011
(qty in mill. pcs)
2012
(qty in mill. pcs)
2011(value in US$ million) 2012(value in US$ million) Change % qty Change % value
China 48.39 42.98 385 346 -11% -10%
Mexico 43.75 42.46 367 378 -2.9% 3%
Bangladesh 21.62 16.85 121 113 -22% -6.6%
Nicaragua 8.07 9.74 46 55 20% 18.4%
Egypt 8.12 6.72 67 62 -17% -7.8%
Cambodia 7.17 6.90 57 58 -3.7% 2.3%
Vietnam 5.11 5.70 40 46 11.5% 15.2%
Pakistan 6.59 5.26 50 41 -20% -17.4%
Lesotho 5.50 4.05 35 32 -26% -10%
Indonesia 3.46 2.71 25 23 -21% -8%

It is interesting to see that countries near  to US have not experienced the kind of reduced exports that other countries have experienced. Nicaragua, for example, has experienced a 18%+ increase in exports whereas , Mexico has suffered a marginal fall. Mexico has also reduced its difference in terms of volumes vis-a-vis China . These figures are an indication that nearsourcing is getting popular with US importers.

Lets have a look at which category – men’s or women’s is responsible for this fall that we are looking at. The results are surprising, it is women’s denim imports which have fallen at a rapid pace and lost over 13% in volumes. While  men’s denim apparel imports have mostly been higher than women’s , the difference seems to have increased much more this year.

Men’s and Women’s Denim Exports Jan-May 2011/2012

Year Men’s qty Women’s Qty Men’s Av. Price Women’s Average price
2011 88.56 82.68 $8.03 $7.72
2012 82.32 71.16 $8.74 $7.96
change% -7% -13.92% +8.8% +3.1%

Denim Fabric Imports

Denim Fabric Imports Into US Jan-May 2011 vs 2012 (Top Exporters)

Country 2011
(qty in mill. sq mtrs)
2012
(qty in mill. sq mtrs)
2011(value in US$ million) 2012(value in US$ million) Change % qty Change % value
China 4.11 5.68 9.48 11.73 +38% +23.8%
Mexico 2.15 2.44 4.85 6.08 +13.5% +25.2%
Taiwan 1.81 2.08 3.54 4.36 +14.8% +23.3%
Italy 1.25 1.43 6.65 7.61 +13.8% +14.5%
Turkey 0.96 0.90 5.56 5.60 -6% +1.5%
Japan 0.80 0.83 5.31 6.16 4% +14.9%

The denim fabric imports  in US , though not a huge quantity , rose significantly from some countries including China and Mexico. While the Chinese denim is  , at many times, meant for reexport , still it is surprising to see such an increase – indication some action in the garment production in US. The only loser among the top exporters was Turkey – which lost about 6% in this period.. Otherwise, an overall increase of about 23% is quite positive figure for the garment manufacturing industry in US.

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