US Census Bureau (USCB) Data Showed The Vast Majority (96%) Of US Importers Were SMBs

Updated on August 02, 2023

US Census Bureau data

Over the past few decades, there has been a remarkable increase in global trade, with the United States leading the way as one of the largest importers in the world. The ever-expanding small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), which are crucial to the growth of the nation's economy, have contributed to the USA's ravenous appetite for goods, including food, textiles, and a wide range of other products. 


We examine the significance of SMB importers' contributions to the import landscape in this blog post as we delve into the most recent data from the US Census Bureau (USCB) that highlights their dominance among USA importers.


Understanding the US Import Market


The economy of the United States is known for being consumer-driven and heavily dependent on imports to satisfy domestic demand. A vibrant market where imported goods from various sectors find their way into American consumers' hands has been created by the country's vast geographic expanse and diverse population.


Food and textiles are two of the most significant import-producing industries because they meet fundamental consumer needs and preferences. According to data from the USCB, these industries, along with others, make up a significant portion of the import market in the USA, and SMBs have emerged as the primary force behind this expanding trend.


Unveiling the Dominance of SMBs among USA Importers


According to data recently released by the US Census Bureau, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) account for an astounding 96% of all US importers. This astounding statistic highlights the crucial role these organizations play in the international trade landscape of the nation. SMBs hold considerable power in import volume and diversity, despite being smaller in scale than larger corporations.


a. SMBs in the Food Import Market


The US economy is supported in large part by the food industry, and there is a rising global demand for a variety of high-quality food products. SMBs have stepped up and made a significant contribution to meeting this demand. These businesses have taken advantage of niche markets to provide customers with a variety of options, from specialty foods to exotic delicacies.  


Additionally, the adaptability of SMBs makes it possible for them to change course quickly in response to shifting consumer preferences, ensuring a dynamic and developing import market. According to USCB data, nearly 90% of all food importers in the USA are small and medium-sized businesses, underscoring their vital role in preserving the country's diverse culinary scene.


b. Textile Importers in the USA - The SMB Impact


The textile industry in the United States is diverse and includes a wide range of goods, from home furnishings to fashionable clothing. To meet the expanding demands of the American consumer, this industry heavily depends on imported fabrics and materials. By identifying distinctive and popular products, SMBs have discovered a wealth of opportunities within this industry, enhancing the USA's fashion and home décor landscape.


These small and medium-sized businesses have unquestionably established themselves as formidable players in the market, accounting for approximately 95% of all textile importers. They have been able to carve out a niche and keep a steady presence in the import industry thanks to their ability to quickly adapt to fashion trends and source high-quality materials at reasonable prices.


The Role of Sea Freight Shipping and Ocean Freight Rates


The majority of goods are still transported across continents by sea freight shipping, including imports into the United States. The fact that the vast majority of goods are transported via maritime routes emphasizes the significance of ocean freight rates in figuring out how cost-effective imports are.


i. The Advantage of Sea Freight Shipping


The cost-effectiveness of large shipments and the capacity to transport a variety of bulk goods are two benefits that sea freight shipping can provide importers. Ocean freight ships also have less of an environmental impact than aeroplanes do, which is consistent with the increasing global focus on sustainability and environmentally friendly practices.


ii. The Influence of Ocean Freight Rates


The profitability and competitiveness of importers in the USA are greatly influenced by ocean freight rates. To keep their product prices competitive, importing SMBs in particular depend on favorable ocean freight rates. This directly affects consumer demand.


The Future of SMBs in USA Import Market


The significant role SMBs play in the nation's import market is unequivocally highlighted by the data provided by the USCB. These businesses are well-positioned for additional growth and success in the upcoming years as global trade continues to change.


1. Advancements in Technology


The emergence of digital technologies and e-commerce platforms has given SMBs greater access to global markets. Smaller importers can now compete with larger corporations thanks to the reduction of entry barriers provided by online marketplaces and effective logistics solutions.


2. Evolving Consumer Preferences


SMBs benefit from being agile and adaptable as consumer preferences change. They remain relevant in a constantly changing import environment thanks to their ability to react quickly to market trends and demands.




The most recent US Census Bureau data emphasizes the importance of small and medium-sized enterprises in the nation's import market. SMBs are the main contributors to the USA's diverse import landscape, especially in industries like food and textiles, accounting for 96% of all importers. These companies are positioned for success as they take advantage of technological advancements and adapt to shifting consumer preferences, continuing to make substantial contributions to the US economy and international trade. The dependence on sea freight shipping and its impact on ocean freight rates will also continue to be significant factors in determining how competitive SMBs are in the import sector. These innovative companies have a bright future ahead of them, and the prosperity and economic growth of the country will undoubtedly be influenced by their success.

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