March 29, 1999
News Release 99-040
U.S. HOME TEXTILE INDUSTRY FACES GROWING COMPETITION
The U.S. home textile industry underwent significant restructuring in recent years as a result
of a highly competitive retail environment, reports the U.S. International Trade Commission
(ITC) in its Industry and Trade Summary: Home Textiles.
As consumers became more value conscious, retailers became more demanding of their
suppliers in terms of price, quality, selection, and service. Moreover, the consolidation in the
retail sector and the growing concentration of sales volume among a few big retailers increased
the bargaining power of the retailers and disrupted traditional producer-buyer relationships.
The big retailers are aligning themselves with suppliers that can offer quality products in large
volumes, at competitive prices, and on a timely basis.
The ITC, an independent, nonpartisan, factfinding federal agency, recently released the report
as part of an ongoing series of reports on the thousands of products imported into and exported
from the United States. Following are other highlights of the report:
- To remain competitive in the market, U.S. producers have pursued mergers and
acquisitions to gain manufacturing capacity, new product lines, and market share.
They also have formed strategic alliances with retailers to strengthen business
relationships, developed new products, and promoted brand-name products. As such,
many firms can now offer retailers a much wider range of home textiles than in years
past and can meet retailer demands in terms of price, quality, selection, and service.
- U.S. producers invested in new manufacturing and information technologies to increase
capacity and productivity while reducing employment levels. For example, in the
integrated mill sector that produces the fabrics used in finished home textiles, fabric
output per loom hour almost doubled during 1987-97. The new technologies also
provided producers with greater flexibility in order to coordinate production and
marketing with retailer needs and to speed the flow of goods, services, and information
with retailers as well as with the producers' raw material suppliers.
- The U.S. trade deficit in home textiles widened considerably during 1993-97, the
period covered by the report, rising by $542 million during 1993-97 to $1.4 billion.
U.S. imports grew by $651 million, or 58 percent, during the period to $1.8 billion,
and U.S. exports rose by $108 million, or 35 percent, to $415 million. In 1997, China,
India, Pakistan, Portugal, Mexico, and Taiwan supplied 71 percent of the imports, and
Canada accounted for 51 percent of the exports.
- U.S. producers' shipments of home textiles grew by 11 percent during the period to an
estimated $9.6 billion. U.S. consumption of home textiles grew by 16 percent 1993-97
to $11 billion. Imports' share of the market rose from 12 percent in 1993 to
16.3 percent in 1997.
- Estimated world exports of home textiles rose by 35 percent during 1993-96 to
$8.8 billion. The major foreign suppliers to the United States--China, Pakistan,
Portugal, and India--are also the world's largest exporters of home textiles. The four
countries generated 45 percent of the world exports in 1996.
The foregoing information is from the ITC report, Industry and Trade Summary: Home
Textiles (USITC Publication 3170, March 1999).
ITC Industry and Trade Summary reports include information on product uses, U.S. and
foreign producers, and tariff treatment of the products being studied; they analyze the basic
factors affecting trends in consumption, production, and trade of the products, as well as
factors bearing on the competitiveness of the U.S. industry in domestic and foreign markets.
This report will be available on the ITC's Internet server at www.usitc.gov. A printed copy
can be requested by calling 202-205-1809 or by writing the Office of the Secretary, U.S.
International Trade Commission, 500 E St., SW, Washington, DC 20436. Requests may also
be made by fax to 202-205-2104.
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