Import data reveals a clear slowing of apparel wool demand during the A/W season in Japan.
Imports of chiefly-wool knitwear, menswear, and womenswear to Japan dropped strongly year-on-year (number of units) in November 2007. The main contributors to the large decrease were very strong drops in wool knitwear and womenswear imports.
The exception was men's suit imports, which posted an exceptional rise. This helped chiefly-wool menswear import figures, which sustained only a slightly lower level than a year before. For the January to November 2007 period, total number of chiefly-wool outerwear imported to Japan decreased strongly from a year earlier.
Average unit prices of wool knitwear (sweaters/cardigans) imported during the 11 months to November 2007, as well as womenswear (particularly slacks and skirts), saw a significant increase.
The cause of the rise in import prices is as yet unclear however, it is assumed that the combined effects of higher raw wool and yarn prices, rising labour costs in China, and weaker Japanese yen against the US$ (the settlement currency in China-Japan trade) and Euro pushed garment import prices up.
On the other hand, the prices of wool men's suits remained stable over the same period and this may have helped maintain the level of import volumes for men's suits.
Australian Wool Innovation Limited