Top 5 US Imports and Where They’re Imported From

 In China, import, importing, Imports, International Shipping

I hit up the 3rd St. Promenade in Santa Monica, CA with my wife and baby boy last week for some good-old-fashioned consumerism. Little did I know I was about to experience 4 of the top 5 US imports all within a 3-block radius. The promenade  – it turns out  – is like a little microcosm of US consumerism. I suppose this is true of most shopping centers, but it struck me in a way I had never felt before.

First we trotted on down to Old Navy to redeem a gift card my wife received months earlier. Not having been to Old Navy in a while (and not since we had a baby), I was pleasantly surprised to discover:

a) how big the store was (a whole upper floor I did not know existed) and

b) how much baby apparel they carried.

We promptly purchased a couple baby items and some of their can’t-beat-them-for-price flip- flops for my wife (I think that officially means summer is a’comin). My wife got a bit ghetto and bit off the price tag of one item right in front of the horrified store clerk immediately after my purchase. She was a bit embarrassed after doing so, but excited to put the item on our son.

The newly-tagless item was a little hat for our 10-month-old. It was cute, our son is cute, and him wearing the hat = cuteness x 2. Immediately, comments from strangers on how cute he looks in his new hat started coming in.

Such compliments are par for the course when we’re out with our son, but my wife definitely enjoyed an extra recent-purchase-induced warm-fuzzy consumer feeling at the compliments from the new hat she picked out.

Now that blog-time has swung around again, I find myself reflecting on how our recent shopping experience at the 3rd St. Promenade paralleled my blog research. The top 5 US imports were all there:

Top Import Apparel


1. apparel

2. footwear

3. furniture

4. kitchen and household appliances

5. automobiles.


We had gone shopping for apparel for my son (a hat) and footwear for my wife (flip-flops). Had I the inclination and budget, we could have shopped for furniture (a floor lamp could really brighten up our apartment) and appliances (a blu ray player would be nice). All were available in one place. You can even buy a car right there on the south end of the Promenade, rounding out the #5 US import item.

Chances are if you are in the international shipping industry (or looking to be) then you are involved in the buying and selling of one or more of these specific commodities. The truth is that the bulk of consumer goods imported to the US fit into these 5 categories; apparel, footwear, furniture, appliances, and cars.  These imports come from various places, but China dominates as the main source for several of them.

It is interesting to note that the average cost of the top imports increases the lower down the list you go. The most common import item – apparel – is the cheapest.

Apparel imports can be as cheap as a $3 headband to a $700 winter coat. Shoes also can cost the consumer relatively little or relatively much depending on brand, mark-ups, and material.

Furniture is (not surprisingly) relatively more expensive than the textiles in the number 1 and 2 slots. The cost of various appliances can have a wide range (from the coffee maker to the high-end washer and dryer) and where they come from. Of course, #5 – automobiles – are undoubtedly the most expensive in the list of the top 5 imports.

So here it is- the top 5 US imports and where they come from- hint: China is prominent, but you may find a surprise country.


1. Apparel

China is the main source of US apparel imports, producing 36.49% of clothing shipped to the US for sale. The other top nations for clothing imported to the US trail significantly behind China percentage-wise. They are Vietnam (producing 9.4%), Indonesia (7.2%), and Bangladesh (6.7%).

2. Footwear

China makes 84.95% of footwear imported to the US. Vietnam, Indonesia and Mexico trail far behind with 6.46%, 3.03%, and 0.88% respectively.

3. FurnitureTop Import Automobiles

Again, China is in the lead, producing 58% of the furniture imported to the US. Vietnam (8%), Canada (7%), and Mexico (5%) hold the next 3 spots.

4. Kitchen and Household Appliances

China produces 49% of the appliances imported to the US. Mexico is next with 25%, followed by South Korea and Canada (9% and 4% respectively).

5. Cars

Oh Canada, where 31% of cars imported to the US are made. Surprised it’s not China? China’s not quite to the producing and exporting heights when it comes to automobiles. But Japan is at the top of their game when it comes to exporting cars. Japan supplies 24% of US auto imports, then Germany with 16%, and Mexico with 12%.[1]


And that is it – the break down of which nations are making the imports Americans are shopping for and which types of products are being shipped to US markets most frequently.

This may guide you in your future investments. Or your future purchases. If nothing else, I’m reminded of just how much the U.S. imported products are made in China.

If you’re importing any of these items or another product you’re passionate, UCM is always here to help you and your business with your international shipping needs. Click below for free freight rate pricing.

Free Freight Rate Pricing

Source: China