Import Change in Volume and Value - % Change and Market Shares - Unit Price Change

US Apparel Imports in 1st Quarter 2017: China vs. Rest of World Statistical Report

China continued resisting on the US apparel import market in the first quarter this year, thanks to a sharp drop of its average unit price in the man-made fiber categories. The market share of other nations has risen in cotton apparel categories, by contrast. This is reflected by our statistical review comparing US apparel imports from China with shipments from Rest of the World (RoW) for every category of products, in volume, value and unit value terms. Historical data cover the first quarters of the past five years, from 2012-2017.

US apparel imports have risen 1.7% from China in volume terms in the first quarter, whereas only being up 1.4% from the other countries taken as a whole (the rest of the word, or RoW).

In the same quarter last year by contrast, Chinese shipments had slightly declined whereas RoW shipments had slightly increased.

No Chinese fall in sight

China's market share has therefore risen this year from 37.15% up to 37.22%. This could be considered a negligible increase, however far from the sharp fall expected a few years ago.

The first reason behind China's ability to resist a predicted decline is the historical shift in US demand from 100% cotton to apparel made of blended yarns with a minority of cotton fibers or no cotton at all.

Imports of these man-made fiber apparel from China have risen 5.9% in volume terms in the first quarter, from the same period in 2016.

By contrast, MMF apparel imports from all other countries have only gained 4.3%.

On the contrary, China is no more able to compete on the cotton apparel market where South India benefits from lower material costs.

China's share of this market has dropped from 27.5% to 26.47% in a year whereas its share of the MMF apparel market has risen from 44.9% to 45.3% in the meantime.

Lower unit prices

The fall in unit prices of Chinese shipments lies behind the resisting market share.

Average unit value of Chinese imports has plunged by more than 7% in first quarter, whereas unit prices of other origins were only dropping 1.7%.

Once again, this is due to a fall of 8.5% in unit prices of MMF apparel from China.

US buyers apparently prefer sourcing from a reliable China whatever the rise in labor costs in this country whereas seeking to partly offset the higher labor costs with lower material prices.

The fall of unit prices means a lower quality of products, however also a gain in productivity in China.



Apparel Import Database

More detailed data are now available for key cotton and man-made fiber categories in our apparel import database, with import volumes, values and unit values per origin:

U.S. Cotton Apparel Imports

U.S. Man-Made Fiber Apparel Imports




Download Q1 2012-2017 US Apparel Imports from China vs. Rest of World (.csv file)


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