The appeal of footwear transcends age and gender—everyone has a favorite and oftentimes it becomes a signature item—but even something as personal as shoes suffers the effects of a dicey retail environment.
Luckily for footwear, the category is coming out on top, generating $246 billion in sales last year. According to data from retail analysis firm, Edited, global footwear sales are projected to be valued at $340.4 billion by 2023. The question, however, is will retailers be prepared with the right goods?
Many are certainly freeing up space for footwear. In the past year, retail giants like Selfridges and Bloomingdale’s have celebrated grand openings of new or expanded footwear floors at their flagship stores. In Q2 2018, according to Edited, Urban Outfitters increased its footwear offering 41 percent, while Nordstrom grew its selection by 26 percent.
And it’s no surprise that sneakers are what’s leading the charge. Edited reported that the world’s largest footwear retailers are offering up more than a third of their SKUs to athletic footwear. Neiman Marcus grew its sneaker offering 52 percent, Nordstrom by 36 percent and Zara saw its mix of athletic shoes climb 31 percent, Edited said.
The emergence of sneakers as a top category is leading to unique retail experiences. On Bloomingdale’s renovated women’s shoe floor at the 59th Street flagship in New York City, exclusive Jimmy Choo stilettos and Chloe ankle boots sit just feet away from Nike and Puma sneakers, bringing the performance kicks head to toe with designer footwear as well as luxury labels like Louis Vuitton and Gucci, which are also growing their sneaker collections.
“Those lucky retailers who bumped up their sneaker offerings are feeling the rewards, with quickening sell-through rates across price points,” Edited wrote.
That’s not to say that sneakers are the only shoe style worth stocking. Effortless slides and espadrilles are among Edited’s list of bestselling styles of the summer, thanks in part to their broad appeal in both the mass and designer markets. Performance sneakers are living up to their name, too. “Stay tuned for more hiking style sneakers to come through from luxury and influence the street aesthetic,” Edited said.
Mules, on the other hand, may have run their course. Despite the style’s laidback look, the mule failed to check off all the requirements of a comfortable casual shoe. Edited said retailers over-anticipated the trend with 56 percent of products currently discounted by an average of 45 percent off.
With comfort becoming a non-negotiable in footwear, why not just give the people exactly what they want? The slipper, Edited suggested, is one category to keep an eye on going into fall.
While the category tends to pick up near the holiday season, Edited said “at home” footwear has an opportunity to innovate and capitalize on consumers’ desires to stay home and nest.