After a dramatic 24 percent decline in 2020 during the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic, U.S. footwear imports jumped 28.1 percent in 2021 to 2.19 billion pairs, data from the Commerce Department’s Office of Textile & Apparel (OTEXA) revealed.
The increase was backed up a 29.8 percent increase in footwear sales in December compared to a year earlier, according to Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA) analysis from U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis that found that 2021 shoe sales topped the previous revenue record set in 2019.
“Despite major supply chain disruptions, higher tariffs and Covid, our companies blew past previous record sales and surpassed $100 billion in consumer demand for the first time ever,” FDRA president and CEO Matt Priest said of 2021 footwear sales.
The top three footwear suppliers–China, Vietnam and Indonesia–all rebounded from down years in 2020, despite production disruptions stemming from the delta Covid-19 variant. Imports from China rose 30.7 percent to 1.32 billion pairs in 2021, OTEXA data showed. This gave China a 60.3 percent import volume market share, up from 59.1 percent the previous year.
Shipments from No. 2 supplier Vietnam increased 17.7 percent for the year to 514.41 million pairs giving the country a 23.3 percent import market share. Imports from Indonesia stepped up 35.7 percent to 128.89 million pairs and a 5.9 percent market share. This gave the top three production suppliers to U.S. brands and retailers an 89.5 percent share of all footwear imports last year.
The rest of the Top 10, second-tier supplier nations–Cambodia, India, Italy, Mexico, German, Brazil and Bangladesh–all participated in the rebound in 2021.
However, some economists and analysts see a slowdown in consumer spending this year. NPD vice president and senior industry advisor for sports Matt Powell said though they were a boon at the time, last year’s stimulus checks will be “a major headwind” for the sports industry this year.
“Many consumers will have much less disposable income in 2022 than they did in 2021,” Powell wrote in an NPD blog.