Clothing factories fight to survive as orders cut

The global apparel industry is reeling from a punishing 2020.

And hopes of recovery have been punctured by a new wave of lockdowns.

Clothing retailers in Europe and America sit on excess inventory and have cut back on future orders.

That's left garment factories in Bangladesh struggling to survive.

Some major retailers remain swamped by last year's clothes, which would have been sold off in clearance sales in normal times.

British chain Primark told Reuters it was housing around $205 million worth of 2020 spring/summer stock, and even more from its autumn/winter collection.

In an indication of the scale of the backlog, consultancy McKinsey says the value of unsold clothing worldwide ranges from $168-192 billion- more than double normal levels.

Britain's Marks & Spencer and Germany's Hugo Boss said they had placed smaller orders than usual for this year's spring collection.

And the pain is flowing to major manufacturing centres like Bangladesh, where the economy relies on textile exports.

Fifty factories surveyed in Bangladesh said they had received 30% fewer orders than usual this season.

With store closures threatening to carry into summer, some retailers are attempting to sell off as much of their excess stock as possible.

Last year was dire for the clothing industry.

It saw sales slide by about 17% versus 2019.

And the future remains uncertain.

There are some bright spots though.

Pajama sales have seen a major boom as people stay home.

But that's little solace for many makers.

While demand for comfy loungewear may be high, pajamas and onesies aren't enough to keep the world's clothing factories busy.