Women's and Children's Apparel Wholesalers

Industry Profile Report

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

Industry Overview Industry Structure, How Firms Opertate, Industry Trends, Credit Underwriting & Risks, and Industry Forecast.

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

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

Industry Profile Excerpts

Industry Overview

The 6,900 women’s, children’s, and infant apparel wholesalers in the US act as middlemen between apparel suppliers and retailers. Major revenue categories include dresses and blouses; outerwear; underwear; and infant and children’s clothing. Some firms also sell men’s and boy’s clothing, unisex clothing, and furs. Because the majority of apparel sold in the US is produced overseas, most wholesalers must work with long lead times.

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 women's, children's, and infant apparel wholesaler operates out of a single location, employs 8-9 workers, and generates $9-10 million annually.

    • The women's, children's, and infant apparel wholesale industry consists of about 6,900 firms that employ about 60,400 workers and generate about $67 billion annually.
    • The women's, children's, and infant apparel wholesale industry is fragmented; the top 50 companies account for 37% 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 VF Corporation (The North Face, Dickies, JanSport, Easkpak) and PVH Corporation (Calvin Klein, Izod, Olga, Warner's).
                              Industry Forecast
                              Women's and Children's Apparel Wholesalers Industry Growth
                              Source: Vertical IQ and Inforum

                              Coronavirus Update

                              May 5, 2022 - China’s Zero-COVID Policy Slows Factory Output, Exports
                              • Apparel wholesalers that rely on suppliers in China may be experiencing increased supply chain disruptions. China’s manufacturing output decreased to a 26-month low in April as its zero-tolerance approach to the pandemic slowed factory output. The Caixin China General Manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) dropped from 48.4 in March 2022 to 46 in April. A reading below 50 suggests output is contracting rather than expanding. In April, new orders and production fell to their lowest levels since the survey began in 2004, and exports declined at the steepest rate in nearly two years. Delivery times grew at the second-fastest rate in the index’s history amid travel restrictions and raw materials shortages.
                              • US seasonally adjusted wholesale apparel sales fell 0.7% in February 2022 compared to the prior month and increased 23.5% from the same month a year earlier on an unadjusted basis. Unadjusted clothing and accessory store sales increased 7.5% in March 2022 compared to the same month in 2021, according to the US Department of Commerce. In March, seasonally adjusted clothing and accessory store sales rose 2.6% compared to the month before.
                              • US consumer prices in March were up 8.5% compared to a year earlier, marking a new four-decade high. According to The Wall Street Journal, with gasoline prices at record highs, consumers are likely pulling back on some discretionary spending. In March, consumer prices for women’s apparel were up 6.5% year over year. Girls’ apparel saw a 5% increase while boys’ apparel prices rose 4.4%. While apparel inflation has been lower relative to other items such as vehicles and fuel, apparel industry watchers suggest that when consumers are price-pinched on necessities, they may have less discretionary income to spend on updating their wardrobes.
                              • Hobbled global supply chains could reduce the profitability of North American apparel and footwear brands by $9 billion to $17 billion in 2022, according to a recent report by management consulting firm Kearney. While brands could benefit from pent-up demand if offices and service sector establishments open more broadly, a swift uptick in demand could worsen existing supply chain snarls. Areas of focus for making supply chains more resilient include trimming the numbers of stock-keeping units (SKUs), optimizing ocean shipping, building additional redundancy into supply bases, increasing data sharing with suppliers, and forecasting demand using AI.
                              • In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, several clothing brands have announced they would alter their business operations in Russia. Levi Strauss is temporarily suspending its operations in Russia. The owner of T.J. Maxx and Marshall’s, TJX, says it plans to divest its stake in a discount retailer in Russia that operates more than 400 stores. Nike is shuttering about 116 stores in Russia, and Adidas is also ceasing sales in the country.
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