In 2020, the United States’ 100 imported consumer products that generated the most spending totaled US$1.211 trillion. That dollar amount represents 50.3% of the overall value of all US imported goods ($2.408 trillion).
The 5 most valuable consumer products imported into the United States during 2020 were cars, computers, phones, medications and automobile parts or accessories.
The total dollar amount for America’s top 100 imported consumer products declined by -4% from 2019 to 2020, compared to a -6.3% drop for all US imported goods for the year.
America’s purchases of imported products–both overall and consumer–actually dropped at a slower pace than the global average decline of -8.2% from 2019 to 2020 for all importing countries.
Among the top 100 consumer products imported by the US, 46 increased in total sales from 2019 to 2020 whereas 54 declined.
Changes in American consumer demand for essential imports offer future opportunities for international suppliers who correctly anticipate which upward or downward trends will continue.
Consumer Products Defined
Economics educator BoyceWire defines a consumer product as a final good or end product that a business creates for consumers to buy. For example, consumers often purchase refined petroleum oil at the gas station while imported crude oil is an intermediate good subject to further processing before being sold to end users.
Although there may be a few wealthy individual buyers, products like turbojets are excluded from the consumer products targeted by this study. That is because turbojets are usually purchased by corporations. In contrast, it is common for a consumer to buy a motorcycle.
Types of Consumer Products
This article focuses on 3 distinct consumer product types.
Convenience Products are easy to access, non-durable, have relatively lower prices and therefore consumers frequently purchase them. Examples of convenience products are food, alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks, and soap.
Shopping Products are not as easily available, involve more time to make a buying decision, are durable and are not bought as often as most convenience products. A great example of a shopping product is a mobile phone where buying the wrong model is a much more expensive mistake than buying a disappointing loaf of bread.
Specialty Products describe another consumer product type. This grey area includes infrequently purchased, expensive, durable and sometimes rare items. Consumers may consider the product’s brand image when making their purchase decisions. Some examples of speciality products are gold, silver, diamonds, jewelry, and branded refrigerators and dishwashers.
US Consumer Imports Smart List
The searchable marketing intelligence table below showcases America’s 100 highest-value imported consumer products in descending order. Items were selected at the four-digit Harmonized System tariff classification code level.
The table’s fourth column is labeled YOY for year over year. The fifth column identifies each entry’s consumer product type.
|2||Computers, optical readers||$104,948,207,000||+15.1%||SP|
|6||Processed petroleum oils||$36,320,212,000||-41.4%||CP|
|10||Computer parts, accessories||$23,787,205,000||+22%||SP|
|11||Seats (not barber/dentist chairs)||$23,197,019,000||-6.3%||SP|
|12||Miscellaneous textile items||$20,432,369,000||+275.3%||SP|
|14||Electrical converters/power units||$16,145,717,000||+7%||SP|
|15||Unrecorded sound media||$15,099,264,000||+29.7%||SP|
|16||Models, puzzles, miscellaneous toys||$14,361,029,000||-6.7%||SP|
|17||Miscellaneous plastic items||$14,246,127,000||+21.7%||CP|
|18||Rubber tires (new)||$14,058,028,000||-9.2%||SP|
|22||Jerseys, pullovers (knit or crochet)||$11,627,591,000||-25.1%||SP|
|24||Lower-voltage switches, fuses||$10,107,406,000||-9.6%||SP|
|25||Electric water heaters, hair dryers||$10,038,755,000||+4%||SY|
|28||Electric storage batteries||$9,468,712,000||+16.9%||SY|
|30||Alcohol (including spirits, liqueurs)||$8,901,181,000||-6.7%||CP|
|34||Cases, handbags, wallets||$8,388,402,000||-24.7%||SP|
|35||Video console games, table games||$8,224,788,000||+35.2%||SP|
|36||Plastic packing goods, lids, caps||$8,138,353,000||+2.6%||CP|
|38||Crustaceans (including lobsters)||$7,699,961,000||+0.6%||CP|
|39||Women's clothing (not knit/crochet)||$7,652,154,000||-25.1%||SP|
|41||Plastic wares (table, kitchen, toiletry)||$6,655,441,000||+2.7%||CP|
|42||Other food preparations||$6,562,263,000||+11.9%||CP|
|43||Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries||$6,445,396,000||+4.6%||CP|
|44||Fish fillets, pieces||$6,100,882,000||-5.0%||CP|
|46||Felt or other non-woven garments||$5,942,169,000||+171.2%||SP|
|49||Men's suits (unknit/non-crochet)||$5,744,512,000||-32.2%||SP|
|53||T-shirts, vests (knit or crochet)||$5,092,289,000||-22.7%||SP|
|54||Screws, bolts, washers, hooks, pins||$5,073,308,000||-13.2%||SP|
|55||Miscellaneous iron or steel items||$4,999,382,000||-11.9%||SP|
|57||Women's clothing (knit or crochet)||$4,962,152,000||-16%||SP|
|58||Footwear (rubber or plastic)||$4,657,612,000||-22.3%||SP|
|59||Vulcanized rubber apparel/accessory||$4,641,692,000||+64.5%||SP|
|60||Dishwashing, clean/dry/fill machines||$4,546,707,000||+8.8%||SY|
|62||Plastic tile or roll coverings||$4,284,125,000||+14.7%||SP|
|63||Miscellaneous fruits (fresh)||$4,195,752,000||+5.4%||CP|
|64||Iron/steel stoves, barbecues||$4,186,626,000||+21.6%||SY|
|65||Other fresh/chilled vegetables||$4,093,673,000||+6.4%||CP|
|67||Carnival items, magic tricks||$3,984,598,000||-5.6%||SY|
|68||Vulcanized rubber items||$3,825,737,000||-11.9%||SP|
|69||Fresh or chilled beef||$3,748,478,000||+9%||CP|
|70||Waters with added sugar||$3,724,438,000||+6.3%||CP|
|71||Hand-drawn paintings, drawings||$3,671,879,000||-53.6%||SY|
|72||Liquid crystal/laser/optical tools||$3,632,868,000||+2.3%||SY|
|73||Iron/steel tables, household items||$3,587,667,000||+9.3%||SP|
|75||Miscellaneous preserved fruits||$3,236,695,000||+3.8%||CP|
|79||Chocolate, other cocoa preparations||$2,887,644,000||-2.3%||CP|
|80||Crustaceans, molluscs (preserved/prepared)||$2,854,792,000||+7.7%||CP|
|81||Women's underwear (knit/crochet)||$2,843,915,000||-10.9%||SP|
|83||Interchangeable hand/machine tools||$2,798,999,000||-8.9%||SY|
|85||Paper containers, cellulose wadding||$2,733,480,000||-1.7%||SP|
|86||Wrist/pocket watches (regular case)||$2,724,899,000||-17.8%||SP|
|89||Electromechanic domestic appliances||$2,547,999,000||+13%||SY|
|93||Coins excluding legal tender||$2,184,316,000||+136.1%||SY|
|94||Men's shirts (not knit or crochet)||$2,170,061,000||-36.1%||SP|
|95||Perfumes, toilet waters||$2,139,561,000||-13.5%||CP|
|96||Yachts, other pleasure/sports vessels||$2,134,499,000||+4%||SP|
|97||Bras, corsets (unknit/non-crochet)||$2,124,074,000||-14.7%||SP|
|98||Fish, caviar (preserved/prepared)||$2,102,267,000||+10%||CP|
|99||Sugar (cane or beet)||$2,091,587,000||+26.2%||CP|
|100||Stockings, hosiery (knit or crochet)||$2,042,553,000||-16.6%||SP|
The most popular product type is shopping products (SD) led by cars, computers and phones. Shopping products represent about half (51) of America’s top 100 imported consumer goods.
In second place via 27 entries are convenience products (CP) led by medications, processed petroleum oils and miscellaneous items made from plastics like plastic food utensils.
Close behind are speciality products (SY) with 22 entries. Examples of speciality products are American imports of gold and diamonds.
Durable consumer products are goods like cars, refrigerators and furniture that last a relatively long time. Consumers can put durable products to use again and again. By product type, note that all shopping products and speciality products are considered as durable consumer products.
Non-durable consumer products (ND) are goods that are not re-used once consumed. Alcoholic beverages and bananas are examples of non-durable goods. Convenience products are uniquely non-durable consumer products.
Based on the product types identified in the above table, 73 of America’s highest-value consumer imported products are durable while 27 are classified as non-durable.
You can also peruse the greatest increases or decreases in product values from 2019 to 2020. To do so, click on the heading of the fourth column.
Fastest-Growing Consumer Imports
Listed below are the top 10 consumer products imported into the United States that experienced the highest percentage increases in spending from 2019 to 2020.
- Miscellaneous textile items: Up 275.3% ($20.4 billion)
- Gold: Up 258.1% ($34.7 billion)
- Garments made from felt or non-woven special fabric: Up 171.2% ($5.9 billion)
- Coins: Up 136.1% ($2.2 billion)
- Silver: Up 83.7% ($5.9 billion)
- Vulcanized rubber clothing and accessories: Up 64.5% ($4.6 billion)
- Microphones, headphones, amplifiers: Up 42.2% ($8.6 billion)
- Video console games, table games: Up 35.2% ($8.2 billion)
- Vacuum cleaners: Up 29.9% ($3.1 billion)
- Unrecorded sound media including smart cards: Up 29.1% ($15.1 billion)
All 10 items are durable goods that consumers can re-use over time. Six are shopping products that require a comparatively longer time to make a buying decision, while 4 top gainers are periodically purchased speciality items including gold, coins and silver.
Worst-Declining Consumer Imports
America’s spending on the following 10 items decreased at the greatest pace from 2019 to 2020.
- Hand-drawn paintings and drawings: Down -53.6% ($3.7 billion)
- Processed petroleum oils: Down -41.4% ($36.3 billion)
- Unmounted/unset diamonds: Down -38.2% ($12.5 billion)
- Unknit/non-crocheted men’s shirts: Down -36.1% ($2.2 billion)
- Unknit/non-crocheted men’s suits, trousers: Down -32.2% ($5.7 billion)
- Tractors: Down -26.4% ($9.9 billion)
- Leather footwear: Down -25.2% ($8.5 billion)
- Knitted or crocheted jerseys, pullovers: Down -25.1% ($11.6 billion)
- Unknit/non-crocheted women’s clothing: Down -25.1% ($7.7 billion)
- Cases, handbags, wallets: Down -24.7% ($8.4 billion)
Processed petroleum oils represent the only top 10 decliner that is a non-durable convenience product that is consumed one time only. Two speciality products made the list of leading losers namely hand-drawn paintings and drawings as well as diamonds.
Key Suppliers by Country
This analysis reveals competitive suppliers that target America’s demand for its top 5 consumer import products.
The biggest US imported consumer product by value is cars. America’s 4 other leading consumer imports are computers, phones, medications, and automotive parts or accessories.
Below, you will find major supplying countries for US imported:
Cars: Japan (22.7% of total), Mexico (20.5%), Canada (20.3%), South Korea (11.4%), Germany (8.6%), United Kingdom (4.3%), Slovakia (2.7%), Italy (2.2%), Sweden (1.7%), and China (1.2%).
Computers: China (51.3% of total), Mexico (25.2%), Taiwan (8.4%), Thailand (5.8%), Vietnam (2%), and Malaysia (1.1%).
Phones: China (56.5% of total), Vietnam (14%), Mexico (8.3%), Taiwan (4.9%), Thailand (3.3%), Malaysia (2.8%) and South Korea (1.9%).
Medications: Ireland (20.7% of total), Switzerland (17%), India (9.8%), Germany (9%), Denmark (7.8%), Italy (5.2%), Canada (5.1%), United Kingdom (4.5%), Belgium (3.3%), and Singapore (2.9%).
Automotive parts or accessories: Mexico (37.5% of total), China (13.5%), Canada (13%), Japan (9.8%), South Korea (6.6%), Germany (6.6%), Taiwan (2.9%), India (1.7%), Thailand (1.1%), and Italy (1%).
More great research: US Tariffs on Key Consumer Products Imported from China, Main US Imports by Key Supplier Countries, UK’s Top 100 Imported Consumer Products, China’s Top 100 Imported Consumer Products, Canada’s Top 100 Imported Consumer Products, Mexico’s Top 100 Imported Consumer Products by Value
Independent insights and analysis presented in this article are based on researched facts and statistics sourced from the following educational portals.
BoyceWire, Consumer Goods Definition.
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook: United States Economy.
International Trade Centre, Trade Map.
Trading Economics, United States Consumer Spending.
Wikipedia, List of largest consumer markets.
World’s Top Exports, United States Top 10 Imports.