Trade sales signal retail recovery

Trade sales signal retail recovery


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AS United States imports of wool clothing slumps to the lowest since 1994, International Wool Textile Organisations president Peter Ackoryd believes current economic uncertainty may provide a silver lining for Australian wool demand.

AS United States imports of wool clothing slumps to the lowest since 1994, International Wool Textile Organisations president Peter Ackroyd believes current economic uncertainty may provide a silver lining for Australian wool demand.

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IWTO president Peter Ackroyd believes recent trade show sales are indicating strengthening demand for wool sales next year, following a slump in high-end retail sales this quarter.

IWTO president Peter Ackroyd believes recent trade show sales are indicating strengthening demand for wool sales next year, following a slump in high-end retail sales this quarter.

Data from the US Office of Textile Agreements (OTEXA) reveals US imports of clothing of all fibres has softened from record levels last year, down by one per cent in volume and 4pc in value for the eight months of 2016 to August, compared with the same period in 2015.

However US imports of clothing to August in 2015 were at a record level and the total imports to August this year marks the second highest on record.

During the recent Australia Wool Innovation’s annual general meeting in Sydney, Mr Ackroyd told Fairfax Media the current political uncertainty in the United States and the United Kingdom, following shock governmental changes, could heal softened wool sales.

“Brexit, Trump, Putin, Syria, Iraq, ISIS, they’ve not been very good for business because they add a certain amount of insecurity to what people do,” Mr Ackroyd said.

“Although insecurity means people air on the side of sustainability and longevity of product, and want to see a return on capital which is good for wool.

“The flipside of crisis tends to help wool - I see crisis as a silver lining for the wool industry.”

For wool clothing, US imports to August was 7pc lower in volume than for the same period in 2015 and 8pc lower in value as production of raw apparel wool collapses to 90 year lows.

High-end retailers, Marks and Spencers, John Lewis and Next all reported plunging retail sales prior to Britain’s referendum  vote to exit the European Union.

“It was uncertainty hovering over the industry – that uncertainty has lifted,” Mr Ackroyd said.  

By value, US imports of wool clothing in the first eight months this year is at the lowest since 2010.

While sales in the UK are down in the UK by about 5pc for the third quarter, Mr Ackroyd said the market was signalling a positive recovery.

“The prognosis for 2017-18 autumn winter sales in the northern hemisphere - following the sampling of fabrics at trade fairs for weavers in September and October - have been positive,” he said.

“January and February are critical months when the clothing industry goes to retail and orders for fabrics are translated back to the weavers.”​ 

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