Influence of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Asian Attire and Footwear Trade

On this four-part collection, we use FactSet knowledge to discover the influence that the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has had on the attire and footwear trade all over the world. We now have complemented the worldwide commerce knowledge contained inside the FactSet workstation with the underlying United Nations’ Comtrade knowledge to higher perceive the product move between suppliers and consumers.

On this first article, we have a look at the gross sales efficiency thus far and consolidate the dealer and analysts’ views of the trade along with their expectations for gross sales progress over the following three years. Within the second article, we are going to discover the company steadiness sheet in additional element to higher perceive how the pandemic interval has modified the construction of corporates’ monetary place. The third article will have a look at restoration choices and suggest some high-level boardroom agenda objects that corporates needs to be prioritizing in the event that they have not performed so already. The final article within the collection will summarize our findings and focus on the outlook for the worldwide attire and footwear trade.

The Significance of Asia in World Commerce

Shopper thirst for trend, and quick trend particularly, has by no means been stronger. We at the moment are far sufficient into the 12 months the place sufficient monetary info is out there to begin analyzing and drawing conclusions on how the pandemic interval has affected this trade.

First, let’s use the UN customs export knowledge by nation to find out the scale of this trade. In 2021, $582.1 billion of attire and footwear-related items have been manufactured and exported all over the world. This was a rise of $47.8 billion in comparison with the degrees seen in 2017. Unsurprisingly, 2020 noticed a decline in international exercise, with commerce dropping to $501.6 billion. The info for 2021 tells us that demand has completely bounced again.


Asia Pacific is by far the biggest exporting area and was chargeable for 61% of all export exercise in 2021, totaling $375.1 billion. The following largest area is Europe at 37%, with the remainder of the world enjoying a really minor position.


The world’s three largest exporters are all primarily based in Asia. China exports $187.6 billion (29.3%) of the world’s whole, Vietnam is in second place with $58.7 billion (9.2%), and Bangladesh is in third place with $44.3 billion (6.9%). These three nations collectively characterize practically half the world’s whole exports and three quarters of all Asian exports.

The US is the biggest single beneficiary of those items. It imports 14% of the world’s attire and footwear exports, totaling $90.2 billion. Of this, 47.1% comes from China, creating a major focus danger. From a China export perspective, lower than one-third of Chinese language output heads to the US, so the focus danger is simply on the US facet.

Let’s study this relationship in somewhat extra element. The chart beneath shows China’s whole exports of attire and footwear over the past 5 years in contrast with the quantity of output that headed to the US


General, Chinese language output has been in decline since 2017. The beginning of the pandemic 12 months noticed the bottom export ranges in recent times. Nonetheless, the info for 2021 exhibits a robust rebound in demand at the same time as many nations continued to battle with advanced pandemic points.

Whereas Chinese language output was on the decline, the quantity heading towards the US elevated between 2017 and 2018. However after the US started imposing commerce tariffs on Chinese language items imports in 2018, Chinese language imports fell. In 2020, Chinese language exports of attire and footwear to the US have been down 21% from the prior 12 months.

Nonetheless, there could also be respite coming, given the problem the US is going through with inflation and a call pending on whether or not the tariff program shall be suspended. What a suspension appears like continues to be to be decided but it surely seems to be a fast win within the very brief time period with probably longer-lasting implications.

What are Gross sales Expectations for the Trade Over the Subsequent Few Years?

To know what market analysts are forecasting for this trade, we consolidated the obtainable analyst and dealer opinions from the attire manufacturers and enormous retailers on this sector utilizing FactSet Estimates knowledge.


This knowledge set solely consists of vital firms on which brokers and analysts present opinions. Nonetheless, this could give us a broad understanding of how the trade goes to carry out due to the market dominance of those firms. The smaller retailers and independents will certainly have a look at this as their absolute best efficiency.

In Europe, progress in 2021 was considerably increased than each different area at 35%, however this excessive degree of momentum is predicted to be brief lived; progress is projected to settle again all the way down to mid-to high-single digits over the following few years. This confirms that the trade is ready to extend in dimension going ahead.

Whereas progress stays excessive initially, all metrics other than Asia all find yourself roughly in the identical place in 2024. Distinction that to the profile in Asia the place progress final 12 months was far more modest, however the future projections are a lot flatter, leading to a lot increased anticipated progress in 2024 than the remainder of the world.

Gross sales Efficiency in Asia

The most effective performing corporates in Asia noticed gross sales progress within the low teenagers within the years main as much as 2020 after which a slight dip into detrimental territory earlier than a robust restoration in 2021.


This rebound in gross sales in 2021 was nearly twice the biggest pre-pandemic progress. The median performers noticed low single-digit year-on-year gross sales progress and a a lot harsher decline of 16% in 2020. Figures for 2021 look to appropriate a lot of this decline.

Corporates primarily based in mainland China noticed a lot bigger pre-pandemic progress. In 2017, the highest performers noticed low 20% progress however the sample throughout the board for 2020 and 2021 may be very aligned to the broader area.

The corporates which might be manufacturing in China however primarily based out of Hong Kong noticed a lot bigger declines in 2020. The highest performers declined by 13%, whereas the median performers noticed gross sales fall by 22%. Nonetheless, the decline for these corporates began in 2019; the highest performers noticed gross sales progress drop from 14% to 4% and the median performers noticed two years of decline. In 2019, gross sales fell by 5% for these corporates.

Excessive Ranges of Dangerous and Uncertain Debt

Gross sales are the lifeblood of a company, however a sale solely provides worth when the bill has been settled in full.

Excessive ranges of unhealthy and uncertain money owed inside a gross sales portfolio can point out poor credit score management processes. However given the unprecedented journey we’ve got simply been by way of, the degrees of chapter within the retail sector in Europe and North America could possibly be a key purpose for this improve.


If we examine 2021 with pre-pandemic ranges in 2019, all three benchmarks on this chart have remained at a better degree.

China stays the worst affected by pre- and post-pandemic ranges of unhealthy and uncertain debt. Pre-pandemic, China noticed default ranges at 3.4%, spiking in 2020 at 6.3% earlier than dropping to 4.7% final 12 months. At slightly below 5%, that is nonetheless very excessive. If 2022 has comparable ranges, the Chinese language producers might have to take a more in-depth have a look at their operational processes.

The general Asia and Hong Kong benchmarks have seen ranges in 2021 solely barely increased than pre-pandemic ranges, which additional highlights that there could also be extra work to do in China.

The hazard of getting excessive unhealthy and uncertain debt ranges shouldn’t be solely is the sale not collectible, however the items are sometimes not recoverable—by the point you look to get well the products, they’ve typically been moved on and arduous to hint. Not solely is the sale misplaced but additionally the stock and the overheads related to the sale and the restoration course of. Poor efficiency right here may point out that the gross sales groups should not have accurately aligned key efficiency indicators (KPIs) that assist the general profitability of the enterprise.

Within the subsequent article on this collection, we are going to study what has occurred to company steadiness sheets of Asian corporates within the attire and footwear trade.

This weblog put up has been written by a third-party contributor and doesn’t essentially replicate the opinion of FactSet. The knowledge contained on this weblog put up shouldn’t be authorized, tax, or funding recommendation. FactSet doesn’t endorse or suggest any investments and assumes no legal responsibility for any consequence relating instantly or not directly to any motion or inaction taken primarily based on the data contained on this article.