By Victoria Waldersee and Ruma Paul
LISBON/DHAKA (Reuters) – Clothes retailers in Europe and America sit on excess inventory and cut back on spring orders. Sourcing agents face late payments. Garment factories in Bangladesh are on the rack.
The global apparel industry, reeling from a punishing 2020, is seeing its hopes of recovery punctured by a new wave of COVID-19 lockdowns and patchy national vaccine rollouts.
Some major retailers are still nursing last year’s clothes, which would have been sold off in clearance sales in normal times. British chain Primark, for example, told Reuters it was housing around 150 million pounds ($205 million) worth of 2020 spring/summer stock and 200 million pounds from autumn/winter.
In an indication of the scale of the backlog, consultancy McKinsey says the value of unsold clothing worldwide, in stores and warehouses, ranges from 140-160 billion euros ($168-192 billion) – more than double normal levels.