WASHINGTON — With demand chilled by the slow economy, U.S. textile and apparel imports in May dropped for the third consecutive month.
The combined volume of textile and apparel imports to the U.S. in May fell 6 percent after declining 0.6 percent in April and 11.4 percent in March, the Commerce Department said Friday. A total of 4.3 billion square meter equivalents of apparel and textiles entered the U.S. in May.
Textile and apparel imports from China declined 3.7 percent to 1.78 billion SME. Chinese apparel imports to the U.S. dropped more significantly than textiles, down 7.3 percent in May from the same period a year ago to 544 million SME, continuing a downward trend triggered by higher prices on Chinese goods and the slowdown in the U.S. economy.
"This is the precarious economic time we have warned about for so long," said Charles McMillion, president and chief economist of MBG Information Services.
Other countries reporting substantial declines in May were Canada, Mexico, Pakistan and South Korea. Canada shipped 112 million SME of apparel and textiles, down 36.3 percent from a year earlier. Mexico's apparel and textile imports fell 14.7 percent to 236 million SME, Pakistan's slid 9 percent to 274 million SME and South Korea's declined 11.5 percent to 147 million SME.
"My suspicion is that part of why the import numbers are down reflects a bit of the nervousness at retail for what consumer demand is going to look like this year," said Julia Hughes, senior vice president of international trade with the U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles & Apparel.
"Apparel usually gets hit early and hard....Particularly when basics like gas costs are going up, you usually see people cutting back on things like apparel," said Cass Johnson, president of the National Council of Textile Organizations.
The only significant gain in apparel and textile imports was from Vietnam, which spiked 24.2 percent to 138 million SME. Most of that growth was driven by Vietnamese apparel imports, which rose 26.6 percent in May from the previous year to 118 million SME.
Bangladesh, Indonesia and Honduras were the other top apparel and textile importers who reported higher shipments to the U.S. Shipments from Bangladesh gained 5.1 percent to 141 million SME, Honduras increased imports by 2 percent to 110 million SME and Indonesian shipments were up 2.1 percent to 135 million SME.
The top five apparel suppliers in May, ranked by volume, were: China, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Honduras and Mexico. China also led the list of textile suppliers, followed by Pakistan, India, Mexico and South Korea.
The total U.S. trade deficit unexpectedly narrowed in May, to $59.8 billion from $60.5 billion the previous month, driven partly by a precipitous drop in the volume of oil imports.
"The trade deficit had been expected to widen in May on higher oil prices, but instead it narrowed slightly," said Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist at Global Insight, adding that oil import volume was "exceptionally low in May."
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye