Apparel Knitting Mills in the US Industry Market Research Report from IBISWorld has Been Updated

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This declining industry has significantly underperformed most other sectors of the economy, due to massive increases in competing imports from plant closures and downward pressure on pricing levels. In the next five years, operators will rely on new designs and niche markets to gain a competitive edge in the industry, and because most outsourcing has already occurred, future declines will be less drastic than those of the past five years. For these reasons, industry research firm IBISWorld has updated a report on the Apparel Knitting Mills industry in its growing industry report collection.

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Niche markets and high-value designing and marketing are the industry's bright spots

Companies in the domestic Apparel Knitting Mills industry do very little actual apparel knitting. Instead, they take on high-value designing and branding activities to earn profit while relying on low-cost imports from Asia and South America for the production of the apparel itself. While the industry's major players have sustained operations successfully, aggregate revenue has declined at an average annual rate of 17.0% over the five years to 2012 to total $528.5 million. Revenue has continued to shrink over 2012, falling 5.9% from 2011. The economic recession delivered an additional blow to America's apparel knitting mills. “Consumers, low on disposable income and discouraged from making discretionary purchases like clothing, limited their demand for knit apparel,” says IBISWorld industry analyst Nikoleta Panteva. “This drop in demand trickled back to the manufacturing sector, pushing revenue down even further.”

Industry profit has followed suit, falling drastically over the past five years. As a result, the industry's size has shrunk from 847 firms in 2007 to 633 in 2012. Some of the unsuccessful companies have integrated into more high-value segments of the supply chain, while others have merged operations to take advantage of economies of scale. For example, major player Fruit of the Loom undertook the activities of athletic apparel company Russell in 2006. Still, other unprofitable players have completely exited the Apparel Knitting Mills industry. The industry has a high level of market share concentration, with the four largest firms accounting for a large share of industry revenue. “Larger players are increasingly diversifying their operations to include more high-value activities like designing and marketing while outsourcing many of their labor-intensive tasks to low cost countries,” adds Panteva.

IBISWorld does not project that an industry turnaround will occur over the next five years, but declines are forecast to be less severe than the double-digit drops of 2008 and 2009. Most outsourcing has already taken place and despite the economy's expected rebound in the next five years, the Apparel Knitting Mills industry is anticipated to decline through 2017. The entire industry will likely take on a new structure where domestic firms focus on high value-added jobs like designing, marketing and branding. As is the trend with most declining industries, operators that continue to knit apparel domestically will try to find an untapped niche in the market. For example, industry player American Apparel uses its "Made in Downtown LA" tagline as a marketing tool. This and similar tactics will become even more commonplace over the five years to 2017, helping to reshape the domestic Apparel Knitting Mills industry. For more information, visit IBISWorld’s Apparel Knitting Mills in the US industry report page.

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IBISWorld industry Report Key Topics

Industry operators knit underwear, outerwear, nightwear, knitting fabric and manufacture underwear, outerwear, nightwear and knit fabrics. Firms knit the fabric and then manufacture apparel; knit apparel directly from yarns and fibers; or knit, manufacture and finish the industry's products. The products differ from cut and sew apparel products, which are generally manufactured from broadwoven fabrics purchased from textile fabric firms.

Industry Performance
Executive Summary
Key External Drivers
Current Performance
Industry Outlook
Industry Life Cycle
Products & Markets
Supply Chain
Products & Services
Major Markets
Globalization & Trade
Business Locations
Competitive Landscape
Market Share Concentration
Key Success Factors
Cost Structure Benchmarks
Barriers to Entry
Major Companies
Operating Conditions
Capital Intensity
Key Statistics
Industry Data
Annual Change
Key Ratios

About IBISWorld Inc.
Recognized as the nation’s most trusted independent source of industry and market research, IBISWorld offers a comprehensive database of unique information and analysis on every US industry. With an extensive online portfolio, valued for its depth and scope, the company equips clients with the insight necessary to make better business decisions. Headquartered in Los Angeles, IBISWorld serves a range of business, professional service and government organizations through more than 10 locations worldwide. For more information, visit or call 1-800-330-3772.

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Gavin Smith
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