Decline in US apparel exports.

Published: May 8, 2024
Author: Fashion Value Chain

Bangladesh’s apparel exports to the US market have been steadily decreasing, with a 25% drop last year and a further 19% decline in February this year, totaling $1.18 billion.

According to data from the US Department of Commerce, apparel exports to the US market decreased by 17.68 percent to $1.75 billion in the first quarter of this year. Combined shipments of textiles and apparel also fell by 17.37 percent to $1.81 billion.

In 2022, the US imported $99.86 billion in ready-made clothing, decreasing to $77.84 billion in 2023, a 22% drop. In January-February 2024, the US imported $12.18 billion worth of apparel, a 7.78% decrease from the previous year. After the pandemic, apparel exports from Bangladesh to the US increased by over 53% as retailers and brands sought to meet demand, although exports did not rise significantly in 2023 due to unsold inventory.

Apparel exports to the US are decreasing due to a lack of demand from low-income buyers. This has particularly impacted Bangladesh, a major exporter of low-cost clothing to the US. Additionally, high interest rates in US banks have led customers to prioritize paying off loans over buying clothing, further impacting apparel exports to the country.

Mohammad Hatem, Executive President of BKMEA, noted that US buyers are demanding faster turnaround times due to depleted warehouse stocks, which his organization struggles to meet due to longer lead times and lack of a deep sea port. Additionally, a gas crisis is disrupting their production, increasing delivery times from 40-60 days to 50-80 days.

The NRF reported a steady growth in retail sales in March due to easing commodity inflation. The organization highlighted the need to keep product prices low in a competitive market. Additionally, the USTR has requested an investigation by the USITC on the top garment exporting countries, including Bangladesh, due to concerns over declining exports in the US market.

The commission aims to investigate the dominance of five countries in the US apparel industry market, specifically focusing on whether any unhealthy competition tactics have been used to capture market share.

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