U.S. retail cotton use rebounded in 2021

This is a line graph showing the U.S. mill use, net imports and retail cotton use from 2008 to 2021

U.S. retail cotton use—an estimate of consumer usage of products made from cotton—jumped nearly 30 percent in 2021 to nearly 10 billion pounds, the highest in 13 years. The recovery coincided with the rebound of the U.S. economy following the onset of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in 2020, when U.S. retail cotton use tumbled to its lowest point in more than 25 years. In the United States, most cotton clothing purchased in retail channels is imported. Import levels are used as an economic indicator for the global textile and apparel industry. U.S. cotton product imports—mostly clothing—fell by more than 10 percent in 2020, while cotton mill use and product exports—mostly yarn and fabric—also slowed with the economic downturn. By 2021, U.S. cotton product imports rose to their highest level since 2007. Although 2021 U.S. cotton mill use and product exports each increased by a similar percentage as product imports, the import volume was substantially larger. In addition, the U.S. per capita estimate of retail cotton usage increased to nearly 30 pounds in 2021, the highest amount since 2010. Despite the recent rebound, global economic expansion is projected to moderate in 2022 and the growth rate in retail cotton usage is expected to slow. This information is drawn from the Economic Research Service’s March 2022 Cotton and Wool Outlook.

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