uncertainties in the global garment trade
environment and challenges at home have affected
China's sleepwear suppliers, leading them to take a
more cautious outlook for this year.
Speculation about US and EU restrictions in the
line coupled with government-imposed export taxes,
which were abolished only late last year, were also
among the reasons behind the move to produce more
midrange and high-end designs.
The bilateral agreement with the EU in September
2005 and the US in November came as a relief to
China makers because sleepwear is not included in
the list of categories with import limits.
But the volatile export environment has already
affected many companies' expansion plans, leading
them to take a more cautious outlook for the year.
Instead of investing in the construction of new or
bigger factories, many suppliers are opting to
upgrade their existing facilities instead.
Apart from the possibility of new quotas,
suppliers had to deal with rising production
expenses as a result of the continuing labor
shortage and higher raw material costs.
The labor shortage was initially limited to
Guangdong province, but is now widespread in
Zhejiang and Jiangsu, which are the main production
hubs for sleepwear.
Many of the industry's skilled workers are
enticed to work in other sectors by companies
offering higher wages and better benefits. Makers
are thus forced to match such job offers with higher
pay, better housing and training for their
employees, consequently raising operating expenses.
The rising cost of synthetic fabric largely used
in designs, plastic and lace trims, and other
garment accessories has decreased companies' profit
Because of these factors, as many as 40 percent
of sleepwear makers in China will be increasing
product prices between 5 and 10 percent in coming
months. But the majority will keep prices stable in
efforts to maintain competitiveness.
Some established makers are trying to pull down
operating expenses by investing in automated
machinery and vertical integration, while the bulk
of suppliers are increasing R&D capability to
improve designs and increase the variety of styles
To boost competitiveness, many companies are
expanding their product lines, improving buyer
services or enhancing product quality through the
use of new types of fabric.
Models made of functional fabric such as modal
and Tencel have been released, increasing softness
and luster in sleepwear. The use of natural
materials such as silk, linen and bamboo blends has
also become popular, providing designs with better
breathability and anti-bacterial features.
And more... To see the full Industry Overview
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