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Yarn Market

Consumer Demand Spurs Made In USA Resurgence

Jim Phillips, Yarn Market Editor

It is no secret that technology has changed the way people shop. Study after study today points to the growth in online retailing and the escalating use of mobile devices and apps to help consumers quickly find the best service, the lowest price and the fastest delivery.

"Consumers today want to know everything about a product," said one industry insider. "And for textiles and apparel, that can in-clude not only how it is made, but where it is from. Where and by whom has it been touched? Where is the cotton grown? Where is it ginned? Where is it spun, fabricated, cut and sewn? What's the carbon footprint of the product, from cotton field to display shelf?"

Retailers are responding by offering shopping experiences tailored specifically to the consumer's stated wants and needs. And one thing consumers seem to be demanding more and more is the opportunity to purchase goods manufactured in their preferred country of origin. For yarn spinners, this means "Made in USA" is making a comeback.

A recent survey by the Boston Consulting Group shows that 80 percent of Americans are willing to pay more for Made in USA products. The New York Times recently reported that "brands reviving the 'Made in the USA' slogan to attract buyers for American-produced goods are relying less on patriotism and more on data that shows consumers are willing to pay a premium for better quality, quicker availability and product safety."

"This seems to be gaining some momentum at the grassroots level," said one yarn broker. "Already, we are seeing some stores dedicate space to U.S.-made textile products. More and more customers are also talking about bringing programs back to this country from Asia. Much of this is a result of increasing customer demand."

Retailers Promote Made In USA
In response to increasing consumer demand, retailers are beginning to promote the fact that they sell Made in USA products. Some are dedicating retail or online space to domestic products. At nordstrom.com, Made in USA is incorporated into the search function of the website, and instructions are provided on the FAQ page. A recent search by a website that promotes domestic products revealed nearly 6,000 U.S. products, mostly textile-related, available on the Nordstrom site.

And Walmart announced in January that it would boost sourcing of U.S.-made products by $50 billion over the next 10 years.

"Retailers certainly aren't putting this merchandise on the shelves just to be patriotic," said one spinner. "Their reason is customer demand. Consumers perceive U.S. products to be a better value, even if there is a price premium."

"As perceptive merchandisers recognize the inherent benefits from appealing to the consumer's social concerns, the intent to purchase Made in USA will gain increasing executive support," another spinner said. "We are experiencing the initial impact as several important brands are promoting Made in USA product offerings. We are aware that an increased population of Americans are pleased to purchase American-made cars, understanding the support their purchase provides their countrymen. Will this sentiment transfer to apparel brands?"

Efforts by U.S. retailers to stock U.S.-made goods should not go unnoticed by the textile and apparel industries, said a yarn broker. "We need to let our customers know that we are aware of what they are doing. We need to say 'thank you' and let them know their efforts have an impact. Stocking and selling American-made textiles and apparel stimulates the economy, fuels investment and innovation and, most importantly, helps keep an essential U.S. industry viable and able to provide Americans with jobs."

Orders Remain Strong
It may be too early to tell whether the increasing interest in Made in USA products is having a dramatic impact on yarn sales. However, through the first quarter of 2013, demand has been brisk.

"Ring-spun sales remain strong," said one spinner. "In fact, everyone I talk to says business is consistent. Overall, it's been a good six months. We are hopeful we will be able to maintain the momentum through the remainder of the year."

Added another spinner: "Our business has been on solid footing for quite some time. It has been steady, and steady is what we need, not the huge peaks and valleys we've been through over the past few years."

March/April 2013

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