The work and outdoor footwear categories are set to start 2015 on the right foot. While overall US footwear sales took slight dip from Jan. 2014 to Oct. 2014, the function over fashion categories experienced significant growth, according to global information company The NPD Group.
Work, occupational and safety footwear sales increased 14 percent to $1.8 billion. Outdoor sales grew seven percent to reach $2.9 billion, compared to the prior year.
Steel toes and aggressive outsoles might lack the luster of runway footwear, but NPD Group chief industry analyst Marshal Cohen noted that the practical and increasingly comfortable styles in these categories is the shoe choice for many, everyday Americans. He added, “A key factor for working consumers is having the proper tools of their trade, and footwear is often viewed as another piece of equipment to do their job. Although the need is there, this footwear market is often overlooked. This presents an opportunity for development, and more retailers and manufacturers should be paying attention.”
Cooling off temperatures has had the opposite effect on winter boots sales. Sales for cold weather casual boots and snow boots experienced double-digit growth from January to October, while more utilitarian outdoor styles, like hunting and fishing boots increased three percent.
In particular, smarter products that blend practicality with the right materials and designs have boosted the outdoor category. Cohen said, “This is a win-win because it targets consumers who seek footwear that’s tailored to their needs, as well as those who take comfort in the fact that their footwear makes a statement and has more unique capabilities, should they need them or not.”