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How Will the Election Impact Footwear Sales? FDRA Takes Stock

With just over a month to go before voters head to the polls, the footwear industry is asking itself what the election means for sales of its shoes. Will a nervous electorate tighten their wallets? Or will half the populace head out post-election for some shopping therapy?

Using historical data, FDRA examined how sales of footwear fared in previous election years, and how they might perform this year. The big takeaway? Sales of footwear are almost completely unaffected by the political climate. In fact, the biggest impact is usually felt after an election year.

“We determined that on average and over the long term consumer demand for footwear and apparel actually fared better during presidential election years and underperformed in the year following a presidential election,” said the FDRA in its report.

While the FDRA notes that overall consumer demand naturally underperforms during recessions, they say there is little correlation between consumer demand and election years. In fact, over the 86 years FDRA looked at, consumer spending contracted during only three election years—1932, 1980 and 2008. These years also saw sharp recessions impact the country.

More specifically, spending on clothing and footwear shrank during only four election years, two of which were during recessions. For 2016, FDRA projects “moderately faster sales growth,” further supporting its views.

“Applied to the present, these findings suggest issues other than election anxiety may be crimping footwear sales for certain retailers while darker days for the sector may lie ahead next year.”