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FDRA: Boot Imports Fall As Athletic Shoes Continue Towards Record Year

As we near the end of the year, the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA) has put some key footwear trends into perspective in its latest report.

Per data in FDRA’s September monthly Footwear Sales Report, the U.S. footwear marketplace is now valued at $76.7 billion, with U.S. shoe store sales growing for the 13th straight month.

Helping to drive sales were athletic footwear imports, which FDRA said was on pace for a record year. Boot imports, meanwhile, recorded a steep 13.7% decline during the month of September, indicating that retailers are ordering less, perhaps weary following last year’s warmer-than-expected winter.

Back-to-school proved to be a hit this year, as FDRA’s Footwear Price Monitor reported boys’ and girls’ footwear touched a record high in October, up nearly 3 percent over the year prior. Moms were less likely to buy shoes for themselves, however, as sales of women’s shoes dropped yet again during October.

As shoe stores hire more workers for the holidays, FDRA’s Shoe Store Employment Report shows some reason for good holiday cheer all around. Even as hourly wages at shoe stores are reaching record highs, sales per employee now rival an eighteen-month high, at nearly $14 per employee.

But higher footwear material costs could mean higher rates from factories in 2017. According to FDRA’s monthly Footwear Material Cost Report, prices for cotton, leather, rubber, and PTA all jumped to near-term highs over the last month.

This comes at the same time as FDRA’s recent EU Footwear Sales Report forecast anemic growth for clothes and shoes in Europe this year. As the U.S. dollar continues to gain strength against the euro, companies may see “no revenue growth from their European outlets,” according to the report.