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Footwear puts one foot in front of the other

Plagued with supply chain issues and climbing operating costs, the first half 2022 has put footwear on its heels.

Let’s take stock of where the category is now and where it may be headed:

  • Footwear was one of the top categories adults cut back on due to inflation with about a quarter indicating they reduced spending on both athletic and seasonal shoes, per a May First Insight survey. Similarly, Bizrate Insights found 7.3% of US consumers switched from purchasing brand name footwear to a private label brand.
  • However, an increased focus on health and wellness has lifted sales of active footwear, per NPD Group. Sales of running and hiking shoes grew 20% in the first third of 2022 versus three years ago, while sales of walking shoes grew 30% in the same time frame.
  • Earnings from the first half were mixed. While Skechers and Puma reported higher sales (thanks, in part, to growing wholesale sales), Nike and adidas struggled. A decline in sales in China offset Nike’s gains in the West, while adidas felt supply chain constraints.
  • It doesn’t seem to be getting better. A large majority of US footwear retailers and brands expect sales to weaken in the next six months, per a survey from Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America. Most respondents said operating costs were higher in Q2 than six months ago and were likely to keep rising.
  • Maybe there’s hope. Back-to-school footwear sales are expected to remain below 2019 levels but still similar to last year, per NPD Group. Sneakers traditionally drive about 80% of back-to-school footwear sales. Sneakers will remain the top seller this year, but other styles, such as clubs and slippers, will also be popular.

Why we care: Retailers’ outlook on footwear sales is gloomy, but the back-to-school season could give the category the lift it needs to carry it into the holidays.


This was originally featured in in the Retail By the Numbers newsletter. For more retail insights, statistics, and trends, subscribe here.