The U.S. and China Remain the Main Consumers of T-Shirts

Wearing Apparel April 17, 2018
Author: Sergey Avramenko
Head of Global Markets Research Team

IndexBox has just published a new report "World: T-Shirts - Market Report. Analysis and Forecast to 2025". Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

The T-Shirt Market Volume Improved Notably Over the Last Year

In 2016, global T-shirt market grew to 12.2M units, rising by an average growth rate of +3.2% over the last nine years. In wholesale prices, the market totalled $40.5B in 2016, approx. mirroring the previous year figure. Following a slight decline, the market expanded at a double-digit rate from 2010-2011, subsequently levelling off over the next five year period. This figure reflects the total revenue of producers and importers (excluding logistics costs, retail marketing costs, and retailers’ margins, which will be included in the final consumer price).

In The Medium Term, the T-Shirt Market Is Set to Continue Moderate Growth

According to projections, T-shirt consumption is set to maintain an upwards growth trend in the immediate term, due to the recovery being seen in the global economy, the process of ongoing urbanization, the rising population, and increasing income levels. The global trend of the T-shirt market is expected to continue, with a growth of +1.7% annually in the medium term. 

The global T-shirt market will develop and expand at various rates in different regions. While the economically mature markets of the U.S., Canada, and Western Europe are close to their saturation point in terms of T-shirt consumption, the emerging economies, such as China, India, Russia, and Brazil are far from saturated. They share a few similar characteristics, including a rising population, an improved economic situation, rising disposable incomes, and urbanization.

The U.S. and China Remain the Main Consumers of T-Shirts

The countries with the highest consumption were the U.S. (25%), China (19%), the UK (5%), India (4%), Japan (4%), Germany (3%), Canada (3%), Korea (3%), France (2%), and Italy (2%). The other major countries comprised almost 30% of global consumption. 

The highest annual rates of growth in terms of T-shirt consumption from 2007 to 2016 were recorded in China, with a +12.6% growth, India and Japan, with +6.5% and +5.0% growth, respectively. Consequently, China significantly strengthened its share in terms of global consumption from 9% in 2007 to 19% in 2016. By contrast, the share of France (-2 percentage points), Spain and the UK (-3 percentage points) declined over the period under review.

Amongst the leading consuming countries, high levels of per capita consumption were recorded in Canada (10 unit/year in 2016), the U.S. and the UK (9 unit/year), which were significantly higher than the world average of 2 unit/year. From 2007 to 2016, per capita consumption in the U.S. grew by +2.0% per year; in Canada and the UK it declined by -1.6% per year and -2.7% per year. The annual growth of per capita consumption from 2007 to 2016 was the most notable in China, with +12.6% growth.

T-Shirt Production Continued Its Growth

T-shirt production increased from 10,460M units in 2007 to 13,046M units in 2016, expanding by +2.5% per year. In value terms, production stood at $49,333M in 2016, with only a slight increase compared to the previous year. Overall, from 2007 to 2016, the average annual growth rate with regard to production value amounted to +4.3%. 

Asian Countries Continue to Lead the Way in T-Shirt Production

China appeared as the key world T-shirt producing country with an output of about 5,158M units in 2016, which accounted for 39% of total global output. The other major producers were Bangladesh (12%), India (11%), Turkey (6%), Viet Nam (3%) and Cambodia (3%). These countries were the main producing countries of T-shirts in the world, together comprising 74% of global T-shirt production.

Despite the fact that China remains a key global centre for the production of T-shirts, production is gradually shifting to the other countries in Asia, where the cost price for the manufacture of light industry products is significantly lower than in China. Therefore, Cambodia (+40.0% per year), Viet Nam (+12.8%), Bangladesh (+10.6% per year) and India (+7.6%) experienced the most notable growth in T-shirt production over the period under review. At the same time, production in China indicated more modest paces of growth.

Approx. 91% of Total T-Shirt Consumption Was Sent to Exports

T-shirts are a widely traded commodity, with the share of export in total output standing at approx. 91% from 2007-2016. The high trade intensity is determined mainly by the substantial distances between the main T-shirt manufacturing and the key consuming countries. T-shirts will continue to be highly traded, fueled by increasing consumption, trade liberalization policies, and intense global and regional integration.

China, Bangladesh, India and Turkey Constitute the Largest Exporters of T-Shirts

In 2016, the volume of global T-shirt exports totaled 11.8B units, a 4% growth from the previous year. In value terms, exports remained relatively stable over the last year at $44.7B in 2016.

China (25% of total exports), Bangladesh (13%), India (8%), Turkey (7%), the U.S., Mexico and Viet Nam (4%, each) were the main global suppliers of T-shirts. From 2007 to 2016, Viet Nam (+13.1% per year), Bangladesh (+10.6% per year) and India (+8.6%) were the fastest growing suppliers amongst the major exporters. The increased exports in these countries is due to the export-orientated means of production, feasible as a result of the cheap labour costs. While the share of Bangladesh (+7 percentage points), India (+4 percentage points) and Viet Nam (+2 percentage points) increased, the share of China (-14 percentage points) displayed a negative dynamic. The shares of the other countries remained relatively stable throughout the analyzed period.

The U.S. Assumed Approx. 29% of Global T-Shirt Imports

The volume of global T-shirt imports increased by 8% over the last year to 11.0B units in 2016, which was equal to $35.8B. The imports trend pattern generally mirrored that of exports: these trade flows globally complement each other. 

In 2016, the U.S. (29%) constituted the leading destination for T-shirt imports, followed by Germany, the UK (7%, each), Japan, Italy, France (4%, each) and Spain (3%). The remaining importers together accounted to 42% of global imports. From 2007 to 2016, Japan (+4.6%) and the U.S. (+3.2%) had the highest growth rates of imports. The remaining importing countries showed more moderate or even negative paces of growth. The U.S. (+3 percentage points) strengthened its position in terms of the global imports, while the UK and France (-2 percentage points, each) saw its share reduced from 2007 to 2016. The shares of the other countries remained relatively stable throughout the analyzed period.

Do you want to know more about global t-shirt market? Get the latest trends and insight from our report. It includes a wide range of statistics on

  • t-shirt market share
  • t-shirt prices
  • t-shirt industry
  • t-shirt sales
  • t-shirt import
  • t-shirt export
  • t-shirt market forecast
  • t-shirt price forecast
  • key t-shirt producers

Source: World: T-Shirts - Market Report. Analysis and Forecast to 2025