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Luxury Brands Find Relief in Footwear

Despite a rocky overall year for the retail sector, the footwear industry served as a shining light for high-end designers in need of a boost in sales.

The Wall Street Journal reported that fashion houses like Chanel, Prada, Gucci and Bottega Veneta all found relief in sales by focusing on footwear, through dedicated shoe stores and repositioning shoes toward the front of larger stores and in plum spots in windows.

Over the last two years, WSJ reported that footwear sales rose 23 percent, greater than the growth of leather goods (19 percent) and the overall luxury good market (15 percent) during the same period. And despite footwear comprising only 6 percent of the luxury market, shoe sales are expected to grow 5 percent annually over the next five years.

WSJ said consultancy group Bain expects the rollercoaster ride that was 2016, from the U.S. election to terror attacks across Europe and a slow down in Chinese production, will likely result in the first decline in luxury sales in seven years. Bain anticipates a 1 percent decline after a 12 percent year-on-year upswing in 2015.

“Difficult phases of the market trigger compulsive shoe shopping,” Michele Norsa, former chief executive of Salvatore Ferragamo, told WSJ. He said footwear sales had “good momentum” even at the height of the financial crisis.

Shoes are also arguably easier to sell online, with an simpler projected fit than clothing, allowing fashion powerhouses to sell more shoes online in addition to stores.