Apparel Wholesalers

Industry Profile Report

Dive Deep into the industry with a 25+ page industry report (pdf format) including the following chapters

Industry Overview Current Conditions, Industry Structure, How Firms Operate, Industry Trends, Credit Underwriting & Risks, and Industry Forecast.

Call Preparation Call Prep Questions, Industry Terms, and Weblinks.

Financial Insights Working Capital, Capital Financing, Business Valuation, and Financial Benchmarks.

Industry Profile Excerpts

Industry Overview

The 9,300 apparel wholesalers in the US act as middlemen between apparel manufacturers and retailers. They purchase apparel and accessories in large quantities from manufacturers and importers and resell them to retailers. Wholesalers often represent multiple apparel manufacturers and carry a variety of categories, brands, and styles. Some firms specialize in past season or overstock merchandise.

Trends, Fads, and Seasonality

The apparel market is driven by fashion trends and fads, which create uneven demand for wholesalers.

Complex Supply Chain

The apparel supply chain is long and complex, and typically involves numerous parties, many of which are located overseas.

Industry size & Structure

The average apparel wholesaler operates out of a single location, employs 16 workers, and generates about $16 million annually.

    • The apparel wholesale industry consists of about 9,300 firms that employ 149,400 workers and generate about $150 billion annually.
    • The apparel wholesale industry is somewhat concentrated; the top 50 companies account for 50% of industry revenue.
    • Most domestic apparel companies (which are technically classified as apparel manufacturers) own or license brand names and outsource the majority of production to third-party manufacturers overseas. These apparel companies are often referred to as wholesalers because they sell apparel at wholesale to major accounts.
    • Large apparel companies with wholesale operations include Perry Ellis (Perry Ellis, Munsingwear, Penguin), Oxford Industries (Tommy Bahama, Southern Tide), VF Corporation (The North Face, Dickies, JanSport, Easkpak), PVH Corporation (Calvin Klein, Izod, Olga, Warner's), and Carter's (Carter's, OshKosh B'gosh).
                              Industry Forecast
                              Apparel Wholesalers Industry Growth
                              Source: Vertical IQ and Inforum

                              Recent Developments

                              Mar 25, 2024 - Producer Prices Up, Employment Flat
                              • Producer prices for apparel and piece goods merchant wholesalers were nearly 5% higher in December 2023 compared to a year ago, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). While employment by apparel wholesalers was flat in December 2023 year over year, it has been slowly climbing back to pre-pandemic levels. Per the BLS, wages fell 10.5% in December 2023 compared to a year ago while up 8.5% from 2019. According to the Census Bureau, seasonal-adjusted sales and inventories for apparel wholesalers were down 10% and 20%, respectively, in September 2023 year over year.
                              • US garment and textile manufacturers say their industry is being negatively impacted by a trade rule known as de minimis, which they say gives an advantage to foreign producers, according to a recent New York Times article. The provision allows foreign companies to ship goods directly to US customers without paying tariffs if the goods are worth less than $800. The nearly-century-old rule has seen a significant increase in use in recent years. The number of packages entering the US without tariffs under the policy rose from 150 million in fiscal year 2016 to 1 billion by 2023. Half of the packages contain apparel and textile products, with about 30% coming from Chinese fast-fashion retailers Shein and Temu, per the article. The National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) supports eliminating the de minimis rule.
                              • A new report from Mastercard in RIS News shows that clothing and restaurants fared well during the 2023 holiday season. The apparel sector grew 2.4%, and restaurants were up 7.8% year over year during the shopping period from Nov. 1 through Dec. 24, 2023. Overall retail sales (excluding automotive) grew 3.1% year over year during the holiday season, failing to reach the 3.7% growth predicted by Mastercard in September. The results were lower than last year’s holiday sales, which posted 7.6% growth over the previous year. The report showed online retail sales growth of 6.3% during the 2023 holiday season, higher than the in-store sales growth of 2.2%. Even so, the percentage of consumers shopping in-store continues to account for a larger portion of total retail spending.
                              • US manufacturing activity contracted in February 2024, falling below the baseline for growth for the sixteenth consecutive month, according to the Institute for Supply Management’s Manufacturing ISM Report on Business. The Manufacturing PMI registered 47.8% in February, down 1.3 percentage points from the 49.1% recorded in January. A reading above 50% indicates manufacturing expansion. February’s New Orders Index was in the contraction zone at 40.2%. The February Production Index was 48.4%, a decrease from January’s 50.4%. Eight manufacturing industries tracked by the ISM reported growth in February: Apparel, Leather & Allied Products; Nonmetallic Mineral Products; Primary Metals; Plastics & Rubber Products; Fabricated Metal Products; Chemical Products; Miscellaneous Manufacturing; and Transportation Equipment. The industries reporting contraction in February were Furniture & Related Products; Machinery; Wood Products; Computer & Electronic Products; Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; Paper Products; and Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components.
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