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Birkenstock, Crocs take a step in different directions during challenging 2020

China 2714 Cons. Discr. - Apparel 400 Cons. Discr. - Retailing 351 Financing 112 Germany 219 U.S. 4830

Birkenstock may be considering a sale to a private equity group, the Financial Times reports, raising questions about its supply chain activity. In common with much of the retail industry Birkenstock’s activity peaks in Q4, shown by U.S. seaborne imports with total growth of 2.4% year over year in 2020 of which 98.0% came from Germany, Panjiva’s data shows.

The peak season of 2020 saw a mixed performance with a 13.8% drop driven by a marked drop in October and November followed by a surge in December. That may be indicative of logistics challenges during a congested peak season, as discussed in Panjiva’s research of Jan. 11.

Higher highs, lower lows for Birkenstock in 2020

Chart segments U.S. seaborne imports associated with Birkenstock on a monthly basis. Source: Panjiva

Other U.S. footwear importers likely had a different experience, such as Crocs, which sourced 76.3% of imports from Vietnam and 13.8% from China in 2020. While overall imports associated with Crocs fell by 12.2% year over year in 2020, Q4 imports increased 39.5% year over year.

The footwear industry as a whole has seen imports to the U.S fall by 23.0% year over year in the 12 months to Nov 30, undoubtedly impacted by the pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, imports of footwear had been shifting to manufacturing centers in Asia aside from China as labor still is an important component of shoe manufacturing. 

Recent data from October and November shows that imports are still falling, if not by as much as earlier in the year. Imports from Europe and other countries fell by 13.2% and 7.4% year over year in the two months of October and November, but only accounted for 15.6% of total imports by value.  Imports from China and the rest of Asia accounted for the rest and fell by 22.0% and 17.6% year over year in the same period.

Footwear imports trip during pandemic

Chart segments imports of footwear to the U.S. origin on a quarterly year over year basis. Source: Panjiva

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