While China remains the dominant source for U.S. footwear, domestic production is slowly chipping away at its lead.
In a recent report, the American Apparel & Footwear Association highlighted a 2.7 percent drop in U.S. footwear imports from China in 2012, the most recent year tracked. The AAFA credited the decline to continued growth in the domestic manufacturing sector and a move among companies to diversify away from China.
Overall imports of shoes to the U.S. slipped 0.1 percent to 98.6 percent, compared with 2011.
Despite the decline in footwear imports, China is still the biggest supplier of footwear to the U.S. market, accounting for eight out of every 10 pairs of shoes sold in America, the report said.
“While reshoring efforts are making a measurable impact in the apparel and footwear industry, the vast majority of products are still made outside our borders,” said AAFA President and CEO Kevin Burke. “As companies continue to diversify away from China, increased utilization of Free Trade Agreements and passage of common-sense legislation, such as The Affordable Footwear Act, will benefit everyone.”
Higher input prices and the recovery in consumer demand drove a 4.9 percent increase in consumer spending on footwear, to $72.4 billion in 2012, according to the AAFA.
The organization also reported that apparel and footwear contributed $354 billion to the U.S. economy that year, as consumers became more willing to open their wallets in tune with improving signs about the global economic outlook.
For 2012, U.S. footwear consumption by volume declined by 0.6 percent to 2.31 million pairs of shoes, 10.5 percent higher than at the peak of the financial crisis in 2008. On average, every American spent $230 on seven pairs of shoes that year, the report said.
Building on the industry turnaround first seen in 2011, total U.S. footwear employment increased 1.3 percent to 1.02 million workers in 2012, the third consecutive annual increase.