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January 15, 2009
The McPete Sez
Lingerie Newsletter & Women's Wear Journal
End of Apparel Duties
The end of safeguard restrictions on textile and apparel shipments from China at the beginning of this year has prompted a US trade group to call on the Obama Administration to eliminate apparel duties as part of a wider economic recovery package.
"Now that the quotas are extinct, it's time to eliminate the high tariffs on clothing that hit hardest on America's poorest families," says Laura E Jones, executive director of the US Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel (USA-ITA).
She told the Obama transition team it should take advantage of the end of quotas to establish and implement uniform trade policies that are not riddled with exceptions for one industry.
"One important step would be to finally and truly integrate trade policy for apparel manufacturing into a single US manufacturing policy," she said.
The importers' group would also like to see the Obama administration reallocate personnel resources.
"Instead of a bureaucracy schooled in negotiating, imposing, and enforcing country-specific quotas, we now need a staff knowledgeable in creating and promoting a unified strategy for all manufacturing and consumer interests.
"That means reorganizing and shifting personnel resources to where they can better meet current needs," Jones proposed.
USA-ITA also recommends that the Obama administration "refocus its attention" on the US retail industry, which lost 250,000 jobs in 2008 alone, and clearly faces a tough 2009.
According to Jones, approximately 3.2m workers were employed by department stores and clothing and accessories stores in 2007.
Pakistan Threatens To Shutdown Textile Sector
Pakistan's textile industry is threatening a national shutdown in protest at chronic power cuts across the
In a newspaper advertisement the All Pakistan Textiles Mills Association (APTMA) warned the industry faced
total collapse and said it was mulling an orderly closure of the country's textile sector.
Companies are protesting at intermittent power cuts of eight to 12 hours a day, as well as high gas and
Outflows from reservoirs have also been cut for annual irrigation canal cleaning - with the net result that
Pakistan is facing a shortage of around 4000 mw or one-third of its energy needs.
Energy shortages have already been blamed for the country's falling exports, with textile and clothing
exports during first quarter of the current fiscal year dropping by 1% to US$2.68bn.
Exports of woven ready-made garments fell by 9% to $354m, and knitted garments were down by 3% to $496m
In November, power distribution companies advised the textile industry in Pakistan to make alternative power
arrangements using standby systems. It said energy shortages are in store for the next two winters.
Around 60-70% of Pakistan's textile industry runs on gas-based power, and last year its mills went without
gas for about 45 days during the winter.
A decision on whether or not to shut down the textile sector is likely to be reached at the end of this week,
but there are fears closures would lead to job losses and industrial unrest.
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China to Cut Export Fees
China is to cut the fee for inspecting textile and garment exports this year by 30% according to local
The press said the decision was revealed by the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and
Quarantine on January 11.
The move is aimed at boosting the country's exports the news service said.
Safety officials in the US and EU have also been concerned about the safety of some Chinese exports,
with problems related to chemicals such as AZO dyes and formaldehyde, as well as clothes made with drawstrings
that are too long, among the main issues.
In 2007 the EU's rapid alert system detected 23 clothing products made in China that did not meet
Most were children's products with parts that could have been easily detached or cords that risked
More than 20 unsafe products from China were also detected last year though the origin of many garments
Two years ago children's clothes imported to New Zealand after children's clothes from China were found
to contain dangerous levels of formaldehyde.
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Macy's to Close 11 Stores
Department store giant Macy’s Inc revealed plans to
close 11 underperforming stores in 10 states and lowered its fourth-quarter earnings forecast after
same-store sales fell 7.5% in November and December.
The Cincinnati based retailer, which operates 808 Macy's stores and 40 Bloomingdale's locations, said the
closings were part of a normal process to prune underperforming locations.
"While new store growth has slowed in the current economy, our long-term strategy is to continue to
selectively add new stores while closing those that are underperforming," said Terry J Lundgren, chairman,
president and chief executive officer.
However, department store operators have been hit particularly hard as the economy sinks into a recession
and consumers curb their spending or trade down to discount chains.
And Lundgren admitted the decision to close stores "often occurs when the market changes, new competing
shopping centers are opened nearby to existing older ones, or when customers change shopping habits."
In its December trading update published January 8, Macy's said same-store sales were down 4.0%,
and dropped 7.5% for the combined November- December period.
Total sales slipped 4.7% to $4.4bn for the five weeks to January 3, from $4.6bn a year earlier.
For the 48 weeks of the fiscal year to date, Macy's sales are down 5.4% to $23.7bn, while same store sales
are 4.6% behind last year's levels.
Looking ahead, it cut its earnings outlook to $1.10 to $1.20 a share from $1.30 to $1.50 a share, and said
fourth quarter same-store sales would be down 7.5% instead of the 1% to 6% drop forecast earlier.
Costs associated with the 11 store closings will be $65m, most of which will be booked in the fourth
UK Retailers Have Worst
Like-for-like UK retail sales were down 3.3% year-on-year in December - the worst performance since
the figures were first compiled 14 years ago.
Total retail sales fell 1.4% - also the worst ever December performance - according to the British Retail
Consortium/KPMG Retail Sales Monitor figures.
The BRC added that, barring Easter distortions, the statistics represented the worst performance of any
month ever seen in the survey's history.
The only sectors to show a rise on last year were food and footwear, but the BRC said the latter was fuelled
by further heavy discounting.
Clothing, it added, fell further below year-earlier levels.
"The first half of December was very tough for many," said the BRC.
"Christmas buying came later than usual: there were more shopping days in Christmas week this year, and
shoppers tended to wait for discounts and early clearance sales."
However, non-food non-store sales rose 30%, outpacing the 9.5% gain in November and reflecting consumers'
growing confidence in shopping online for Christmas presents.
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