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Shoe Sales Survey Shows Consumers Plan to Stock Up on Sneakers This Spring

Local chains, online retailers and sneaker brands can start the spring season with an optimistic foot forward.

Despite recent reports that consumers are pulling back on footwear and apparel purchases, the Spring 2018 National Shoe Sales Survey by the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA) reveals a consumer base eager to update their footwear wardrobe this season.

Overall, 74 percent of respondents said they were very likely or somewhat likely to purchase new shoes for either themselves or their family this spring.

Where consumers are shopping in-store

While the percentage of consumers planning to make a purchase in a traditional store is down from 77 percent in 2017 to 66 percent in 2018, FDRA found that shoppers still prefer purchasing in store by nearly 2:1 compared to online. Ensuring proper fit is what consumers said they like the most about in-store shopping, followed by customer service and convenience.

And of those physical stores, the preference is for local chains. More than half of the respondents who plan on shopping in a store this spring said they plan to go to a chain like DSW, Famous Footwear or outlet stores, which is up from 44 percent in 2017. The outlook for local family-owned stores, however, is grim, with just 4 percent of respondents saying they’ll shop mom and pop.

Where consumers are shopping online

Amazon is the go-to source for online shopping. Of the 35 percent of respondents shopping online, FDRA said there’s a slight increase in those planning to shop with the e-commerce giant, from 47 percent in 2017 to 52 percent in 2018. Fewer consumers said they plan to shop on brand websites, but more are heading to footwear specific online retailers like Zappos and to make purchases, which is up 4 percentage points in 2018.

For those who do buy online, 25 percent said what they like most is the price, up from 21 percent in 2017, and 18 percent pointed to variety as their reason for turning to the web.

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What consumers are buying

With communion, prom, graduation and wedding seasons on the horizon, spring should be a time for special occasion and dress shoe shopping, but sneakers are in it to win it. Among the respondents purchasing shoes, 70 percent said they intend to buy casual or performance sneakers. Just 17 percent said they were buying fashion and dress shoes, like heels, flats and men’s oxfords, while 13 percent said they would buy something else entirely.

How much consumers are spending

The survey found that nearly half of shoe shoppers are planning to spend the same amount as last year, while 29 percent plan to spend less. FDRA said this is a “significant difference” from 2017 when 50 percent of all consumers said they were planning to spend less money.

This year it seems consumers plan on investing in pricier footwear, too. In 2018, 48 percent of respondents said they’d spend under $100, down from 69 percent in 2017. The report said growth in spending was within the $100-$250 amount, which increased from 23 percent in 2017 to 39 percent in 2018.