Vietnam Grows, Sneakers Are Red Hot: FDRA Sourcing Report Takeaways

Vietnam, Sneakers Grow Big In 2015:
A worker in a shoe factory.

Industry group Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America released its annual forecast for 2016 and roundup of U.S. footwear sourcing and imports in 2015 this week. Here were three highlights from the report.

Athletic Imports Up, Children’s Down

In 2015, athletic imports hit new highs, thanks in part to the strengthening athleisure trend stateside. Imported pairs grew 10 percent year over year and topped 518 million pairs imported last year. China remained the dominant supplier of athletic footwear at just over 46 percent of the total athletic category imports, but Vietnam and Indonesia are increasingly grabbing market share.

Children’s imports were up about 5.5 percent year over year, but the market has still contracted over the past several years due to a slower birthdate in the U.S. and slowing market from top children’s importer China.

Key Markets: Vietnam, China, Indonesia

China is still the top producer for U.S. footwear, though other countries are pressuring its dominance. China sent 1.9 billion pairs to the U.S. last year, or about 76 percent of total U.S. imports. Despite the monopoly China holds on production, increasingly brands are seeking out alternatives and this year continued to send business to Vietnam and Indonesia. Vietnam exports to the U.S. hit a year-over-year increase of 19.3 percent to 331.2 million pairs. Indonesia also saw growth.

Economic Outlook

The strength of the dollar continues to be a key focus for brands producing abroad, and as long as it remains strong, it’s not expected to have too big of an impact on production costs. Soft cattle prices and low oil prices are both favorable for keeping production costs down. The passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership remains crucial to further boosting Vietnam’s growth.