Reader Tim Wallace provides an interesting chart of apparel sales in the US by price and by unit volume. In this case, volume is likely the more telling statistic.
Tim writes …
As always, I am watching imports, especially with fascination the apparel imports. In the attached graph we see that dollars and units run mostly in slope lock-step until the crash of apparel demand in 2009.
In 2010 we see a significant “recovery”. One thing about apparel is it does wear out, so a year like 2009 will cause pent-up demand in a following year. Price did not recover as much however.
2011 and the 12 month historical rolling numbers ended in March of 2012 (government data lags two months) is more interesting.
Dollar amounts continue to “recover” but the units measure has turned well downward again, in fact off 6% from 2010.
Looking at the monthly data from this time last year we see a continued degradation of the units amount every month, while the dollars amount trends up.
This is in effect apparel inflation, caused partially by raw materials. Cotton has been replaced in a significant percentage of products, stripping out demand and lowering that cost.
China lost some market share due to labor cost competition with Vietnam. However, China still dominates with 41.2% of market share, Vietnam second at 8.5%, then Bangladesh at 6.4% and Indonesia at 5.4%.
Thus 61.5% of all apparel imports come from only 4 countries.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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