Sporting goods imports into the U.S. surpassed the $10 billion milestone for the first time in 2004 with a 7.5% increase in declared value to $10.43 billion. SGMA International reported these numbers by analyzing U.S. Commerce Department data for athletic footwear, jogging/warm-up apparel, and 14 sports equipment categories. This is the third consecutive year in which the value of imported sports goods increased. In the past ten years, the dollar value of sporting goods imported to the U.S. has increased 60.0%.

Imports from mainland China accounted for 58.9% of all sporting goods imports or $6.1 billion. This is an increase of roughly $500 million from 56%, or $5.4 billion, in 2003.

Imports from all other countries declined. Taiwan dropped to 8.3% compared to 9.3% last year; Canada fell to 3.9% compared to 4.8% last year; Mexico dropped to 3.8% compared to 4.2% in 2003; and South Korea to 1.9% versus 2.5% in 2003.

Athletic footwear continues to show growing import numbers. Total athletic footwear pairs imported increased by 4.7% from 394 million pairs in 2003 to 413 million in 2004. The average price per pair increased 1.2% from $10.52 to $10.65. This continues a trend toward slightly higher prices for a second consecutive year.

Mainland China is the dominant exporter of athletic footwear to the U.S. with a market share of 76.7%. China has maintained a three-quarters share for four years, although this dominance appears to be shrinking. China’s share was 77.6% last year. Indonesia’s share fell to 8.8% while Vietnam is showing the most growth with an increase from 6.2% to 8.0%.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Commerce Department’s coverage of athletic clothing and activewear is minimal in relation to the total amount of product actually imported in these categories. But specific import data for jogging/warm-up apparel, such as jackets, pants and sweatshirts is reported. For 2004, the total dollar value for these apparel items was $1.06 billion, a decrease of 2.5% compared with $1.09 billion in 2003.

Data on hardgoods imports is much more detailed. Four categories showed declines in the dollar value of goods imported into the U.S. – Baseball/Softball, Hockey, Roller skates, and ‘other hardgoods.’ The ten remaining categories all showed increases in imports.

Next year’s numbers should provide some insight on the effects of the removal of the quota system.