Some of the world’s biggest footwear and garment companies are seeing production pinched. Their factories in Southeast Asia are struggling to keep the lights on amid one of the world’s deadliest COVID-19 resurgences. Manufacturers in countries like Vietnam have suspended operations. Most factories that supply Nike and Adidas in Vietnam have suspended output. Production for the two companies accounts for about 80 per cent of Vietnamese footwear exports and employs at least 5,00,000 workers, or about half of the Vietnamese footwear industry’s workforce.
The temporary shutdowns come as assembly lines gear up for the holiday shopping season in the US and Europe. Delays could mean shoes, suits, sweatshirts and other clothes won’t be on department-store racks by Thanksgiving Day, the traditional kickoff for the holiday shopping season.
An export powerhouse, Vietnam not only survived but even thrived during the US-China trade war and the early phases of the pandemic. Still, its trade outlook was starting to show signs of faltering in the first half of July. Shipments of computers and electronics, as well as telephone equipment, contracted in the first half of this month from the same period a year ago, and footwear and garment producers could follow suit in the second half of the month. There could be some relief if factory operations in southern Vietnam are allowed to resume.