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NPD: Here’s How Fashion Footwear Will Fare Through the Holidays

In October, The NPD Group predicted that fashion footwear would soon be overtaken by sneakers and other sport-inspired styles as consumer preferences shifted to comfort—but what does that mean for fashion footwear sales during holiday 2019?

Using its consumer and retail tracking service, NPD found that fashion footwear sales will experience little to no growth this holiday season compared to the previous year, despite the fact that fashion footwear sales still make up the highest sales volume of any category this year.

“While fashion may re-emerge on top for holiday in terms of sales volume, I expect that sales will be flat at best, while casual sneakers and skate shoes within sport leisure will lead the category to high single/low double-digit growth rates this season,” Beth Goldstein, executive director and industry analyst for accessories and footwear at NPD, shared in an email sent to Sourcing Journal.

However, NPD said that fashion footwear has still grown at a steady rate this year, up about 3 percent through September. This growth is stronger than both the apparel and accessories categories and Goldstein said that she predicts fashion footwear sales will continue to expand despite holiday-related disadvantages and uncertainty related to the trade war and variable weather conditions.

NPD called out some fashion footwear products that will likely come out on top throughout the gift-giving season, including Crocs clogs, Dr. Martens boots and Birkenstock sandals. According to NPD’s Retail Tracking Service, sales for all three styles are up by double digits as of October.

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“In addition to the comfort element, these have been extremely popular with younger consumers as they gravitate towards more utilitarian, gender-neutral styles, and brands with strong heritage and authenticity stories,” Goldstein explained. “I expect that these items will perform well during the holiday season and will help the fashion category to offset losses in other areas, such as dress shoes.”

Even if the weather turns out to be less-than-ideal for fur-lined boots and comfy slippers, Goldstein said sales of these silhouettes may still turn out strong thanks to consumer interest in what she calls “winter wonderland” aspirations. Brands that capitalize on this aspiration during their winter marketing programs, she said, will likely see positive reactions no matter how cold or warm it gets.

In footwear, “function is now fashionable,” NPD said, and any product that can weigh utilitarian practicality against fashion elements can succeed with consumer demands today.

Sustainable causes are likely to be one of the primary drivers of new business in this holiday. NPD found that 30 percent of respondents to its 2019 Holiday Purchase Intentions Survey said they would be more likely to purchase a product that’s associated with a cause that they believe in.

NPD pointed to retailers like Nordstrom and Zappos, which both have curated selections of sustainable, locally sourced and charitable products, as examples of businesses that others can look to for inspiration.