American imports of yoga products have doubled in the past five years, making it one of the fastest growing segments of the sports apparel industry. This won’t come as a surprise for anybody who’s tracked the meteoric rise of companies like LuluLemon Athletica, whose stock is up more than 30 times from its 2009 lows. Still, it’s hard to look at the import data for this industry and not come away impressed with the explosive growth.
According to ImportGenius.com databases, which monitors every shipment coming into the U.S. by ocean, shipments containing the term ‘yoga’ increased 44% in 2012 over 2011. In just a year, the average weight per shipment increased nearly 9 times.
Meanwhile, since 2008, the number of shipments imported into the U.S. containing the term ‘yoga’ increased by 140% while the average weight per shipment was up more than 10 times. It appears the industry is consolidating with larger shipments as big companies take the yoga phenomenon into the mainstream. We’ll be monitoring the trend closely to see if the growth continues in 2013.
The ImportGenius.com database of 75 million shipping manifests–one for every shipment entering the U.S. by ocean in the last 7 years–reveals other surprising facts about this burgeoning new industry.
For example, despite the practice’s South Asian origins, the vast majority of American yoga imports originate in Hong Kong, Taiwan and China. Those regions account for more than 70% of all ocean-borne yoga exports to the U.S. Exports from China in 2012 were 44% of total U.S. imports. It seems India has largely missed the boat on a business that it should naturally dominate, accounting for less than 1 per cent of imports since 2006.
And next time your yoga friends stress their practice’s non-attachment to material outcomes, you may want to remind them that we imported more than 435,614,091 pounds of yoga-related products in the last year alone. So much for ascetic minimalism.
Lululemon Athletica, a leading retailer for yoga products, is a testament to yoga’s recent big boom. Recent reports and third quarter results show their revenue increased by 37% from last year. We can attribute this growth to 405 more shipments having been received in the U.S. in the past year compared to 2011. The weight of these shipments increased by more than 2.3 million pounds, and yoga mats, yoga clothes and running gear for sweaty workouts make up a bulk of what filled those containers.
Combining a tradition that goes back thousands of years with a level of fanaticism rarely seen in practitioners of any other sport plus clear health benefits from the practice, we can’t see any reason why this trend will slow any time soon.
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