The U.S. economy continued its glacial rebound in 2016 as key apparel industry indicators showed signs of improvement. But a deeper dive into the numbers makes it clear that some sectors fared better than others.
Retail real estate looks to be the bright spot as developers and brands snatch up space in key areas as soon as it’s available. There’s no open space on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, and Melrose Avenue east and west of La Cienega is a popular hot spot. Meanwhile, once-red-hot Robertson Boulevard seems to be showing signs of recovery.
Employment at California’s apparel and textile businesses appears relatively flat, but factory jobs are only a part of industry employment overall and don’t include categories such as design, showroom sales, technology and finance.
On the import/export front, Vietnam continues to draw apparel factory business from giant China, which remains our largest import partner. Similarly, imports from Mexico seem to be down as apparel makers look for other sourcing venues in the region and around the world.
One of the starkest examples of the uneven recovery can be found when comparing the flagging retail sales results at specialty retailers to the surging numbers reported by discounters.