American Industry Overview: Women's Handbags and Purses

Industry Snapshot

The women's handbag and purse industry produces all women's handbags and purses of leather and other materials, except precious metals. Approximately 66 percent of the domestic handbags shipped in the United States in the mid-2000s were made of leather. Handbag shipments declined steadily from the late 1990s into the early twenty-first century due mainly to competition from imports. Shipments were $287 million in 1997, $246 million in 2000, and $210 million in 2002. However, revenues rose during the mid-2000s and by 2005 shipments were $440 million. Total industry employment for all leather manufacturing, including luggage, women's handbags and purses, personal leather goods, and other leather goods, declined from 16,208 workers in 2002 to 15,673 workers in 2005. The total value of women's handbags and purses that were exported by the United States in 2006 equaled only $226 million, while the value of imports totaled nearly $2.4 billion. The handbag and purse industry was worth more than $3 billion at decade's end.