Apparently, the rest of the world wants to be in our shoes. Though imports of footwear have declined in the first two months of 2015, exports have surged.
According to Commerce Department data released earlier this month, U.S. footwear imports fell by 2.9% in February compared to the same month last year, to just over $2.1 billion, a smaller decrease than that of overall goods and services imports in the month despite the continued strength in the U.S. currency, which tends to make imported goods less expensive and therefore more desirable.
The decline in overall imports was due primarily to drops in imports of industrial supplies and materials, crude oil, and capital goods. Imports of services were virtually flat.
On a 12-month smoothed basis, which corrects for volatility of data in a particular month, footwear import growth was 2.8% in February, its smallest increase in almost a year.
China, Vietnam, Italy and Indonesia and India are the top sources of U.S. imported footwear so far this year, with Vietnam up by 23 percent to $632 million year to date, and China down by 6 percent on a dollar basis.
Footwear exports continued to outperform the total export market, however, increasing by more than five percent to $62 million. On a 12-month smoothed basis, footwear export growth accelerated to 7.2%, its second highest increase in three years. Overall exports of goods and services dropped by 4.4% in the month, hurt by the continuing strength of the dollar.
Canada is the biggest market for U.S. footwear exports so far this year, comprising more than one-third of the total, followed by Japan and South Korea.
Late in the month, an agreement was reached between the parties in the West Coast ports work slowdown, and a huge backlog of imported goods finally began entering the U.S., which should boost March apparel import figures.