AWI reports US and UK wool market recovery signs

Sheep Central, May 21, 2021

AWI CEO Stuart McCullough: signs of wool garment market recovery in US and UK.

AUSTRALIA’S traditional North American and United Kingdom wool garment markets are showing signs of bouncing back, according to Australian Wool Innovation.

The AWI analysis has shown signs in the bounce back of traditional wool consumption markets of the UK and USA for the 2021 autumn/winter season.

This followed sales and import growth in China, South Korea and Japan over recent months, AWI said.

AWI chief executive Stuart McCullough said there is growing optimism from retailers in UK and the US that vaccination has turned around the worst elements of the pandemic.

“The UK’s successful vaccination program and staged easing of restrictions has meant consumers are shopping more freely again.

“There is strong interest in clothing sales, particularly knitwear as the spring weather in Britain is some of the coldest in two decades,” he said.

Mr McCullough said the UK National Office of Statistics has also reported that clothing stores provided the largest positive contribution to the monthly growth in March 2021, with an increase of 17.5 percent in sales volume.

“Non-essential stores in England, and Wales re-opened on the 12th April.

“Greater freedom of movement and socialising is expected to further increase non-essential retail spend and footfall to high street retail locations,” he said.

“Social occasions will help to drive renewed demand for apparel, with many younger consumers eager to socialise, releasing pent-up demand for fashion.”

AWI said the formal market – suiting in particular – is expecting a V-curve recovery in sales sparked by occasion wear, as Britons will be able to attend more formal events including weddings in coming months.

AWI said the United Kingdom is the third largest per capita global consumer of wool and is set to be the next cab off the rank after China and South Korea – followed by the United States, Japan, Scandinavia and Western Europe.

In the United States, there are signs that quality Italian wool apparel, such as women’s coats and next to skin items like base layer and fine Merino knitwear, has remained resilient throughout the pandemic, AWI said.

And while the US retail sector is now in its Spring/Summer period, there is renewed optimism from the Italian mills for wool orders being secured for the impending 2021 Autumn/Winter season, the levy-funded body said.

Market conditions to improve in late 2021 into 2022

Endeavour Wool Exports trading manager Josh Lamb said although he is not privy to AWI’s retail analytics, the flow back from its early stage processor customers in Europe is positive, along similar lines to the AWI analysis.

“Our Chinese customers who re-export to Europe and USA are also talking in similar terms that late 2021 and into 2022 market conditions should be quite favourable for wool.”

“While we expect a sugar hit in sales of suits post-lockdown, there are still some challenges in the longer term, with worsted fabric produced from fleece wool,” he said.

“This will be softened by the growth in active wear and next to skin apparel though.”


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