Factories in the country, a major apparel and footwear supplier to the U.S., have been forced by the pandemic to close or operate at reduced capacity, complicating the all-important holiday season.
Instead, Everlane has spent this month scrambling just to get jeans — along with other products like bags and shoes — out of Vietnam, where a surge in coronavirus cases has forced factories to either close or operate at severely reduced capacity with staff living in on-site bubbles. The New York Times has the story:
“At this point, we have factories in 100 percent lockdown,” Michael Preysman, Everlane’s chief executive, said in an interview. “Do we fly things over? Do we move things? Do we adjust in the factory? It’s a nonstop game of Tetris.”
Vietnam has grown in recent years to become the second-biggest supplier of apparel and footwear to the United States after China. Vietnam made it through the first part of the pandemic relatively unscathed, but now the Delta variant of the coronavirus is on a rampage, highlighting the uneven distribution of vaccines globally and the perils that new outbreaks pose to the world’s economy.
With the holiday season fast approaching, many American retailers are anticipating delays and shortages of goods, along with higher prices tied to labor and already skyrocketing shipping costs. Everlane said it was facing delays of four to eight weeks, depending on when factories it worked with in Vietnam had closed. Nike cut its sales forecast last week, citing the loss of 10 weeks of production in Vietnam since mid-July and reopenings set to start in phases in October.
“We weren’t anticipating a full lockdown,” said Jana Gold, a senior director with Alvarez & Marsal’s consumer and retail group, who has been helping retailers with supply chain issues. “We’re going to continue to see a high demand for goods from highly vaccinated countries or regions, but who are getting the goods from highly unvaccinated countries that could be struggling.”
The logjam has put a spotlight on Vietnam’s key role in outfitting American consumers. Many retailers moved their manufacturing to the country from China over the past decade because of rising costs. New tariffs on China instituted under former President Donald J. Trump accelerated the shift.
Contract factories in Vietnam manufactured 51 percent of total Nike brand footwear last year. Lululemon and Gap, which also owns Old Navy, have said a third of their merchandise comes from factories in Vietnam. Everlane said the country supplies 40 percent of its wares.
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