Footwear exports to the US set for tough year

Footwear exports to the US have been forecast to struggle in the remaining months of this year due to falling demand though it recorded a 10 percent increase in revenue in the first quarter of the year

footwear exports to the us set for tough year

Footwear products are made at a plant of Dong Hung Footwear Group in Binh Duong province.

Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America President Matt Priest was quoted by Cong Thuong (Industry and Trade) online newspaper as saying that the COVID-19 pandemic caused unemployment in the US to rise and income to fall, hurting consumption.

Demand for footwear products in the US saw declines in January-May and the downward trend was forecast to continue for the remaining months of this year, he said.

He cited statistics that footwear sales in the US dropped by nearly 30% in March against the same period last year while footwear imports fell to the lowest level since March, 2017. Vietnam’s footwear exports to the US decreased by nearly 20% in April.

He forecast it will be difficult to see a significant increase in Vietnam’s footwear exports to the US in the rest of this year.

Still, there are opportunities for Vietnamese footwear producers to expand exports in the US.

From 2003 to date, he said that while the US’s footwear imports from other countries saw downward trends, imports from Vietnam increased.

After the COVID-19 pandemic, the global supply chain is being rebuilt with a trend of moving out of China. Figures showed China accounted for 90% of the US’ footwear market 12 years ago but now its market share was reduced to 7% and importers tended to look for more supply sources.

Diep Thanh Kiet, deputy chairman of the Vietnam Leather, Footwear and Handbag Association, said that it is a difficult time for Vietnam’s footwear exports to the US due to low demand.

The US market also has high requirements about corporate social responsibility and environmental protection in footwear production, Kiet said, urging producers to pay attention to these requirements to expand exports to the US.

Kiet also said that producers must focus on designs and quality to satisfy consumers’ tastes.

Despite the pandemic, Vietnam’s footwear exports to the US rose 10% to reach US$1.56 billion in revenue in the first quarter of this year.

The US was the largest footwear export market of Vietnam with revenue of US$6.65 billion in 2019, a year-on-year increase of 14.2%.

Vietnam exported US$18.3 billion worth of footwear products in total last year, up 12.8% against 2018. Made-in-Vietnam footwear products were present in more than 100 countries worldwide.

The country hopes to earn US$20 billion from footwear exports this year.

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