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Children’s Footwear Tops Canadian Back-to-School Shopping Lists

Kids in Canada will start the school year off on the right—and stylish—foot during the upcoming back-to-school season.

The NPD Group, the leading market research company, ranked children’s footwear as the category with the most year-over-year sales growth across all shoe segments in Canada. The majority of the growth—a four percent increase in units—occurred in the weeks leading up to the start of the last school year, NPD reported.

Snow boots and running shoes are leading the growth, which had annual sales of $107 million and $57 million respectively for the year ending December 2013, and the momentum is expected to continue into the upcoming back-to-school shopping season.

Sandy Silva, fashion industry analyst at The NPD Group, noted that parents are “mentally geared up” to invest in their children’s wardrobes during this time of year. She said, “Annual shoe replacements are often compulsory since growth spurts and rough play can render kids’ favorite pairs unwearable relatively quickly, but make no mistake: though parents are footing the bill for new pairs, it’s often children—even those who are very young—who are dictating which styles to buy.”

NPD reported that this time last year Canadian department stores experienced the most growth (approximately 18 percent) in overall footwear sales compared to 2012, followed by athletic specialty footwear chains. The average prices spent per pair of children’s shoes at department stores was $35 and $50 for athletic specialty footwear chains. Online sales also increased by 10 percent, however, Silva noted that not being able to have kids try on shoes before buying is still a major deterrent for parents to order shoes online.

The growing number of brands and vendors new to the Canadian market is expected to ramp up promotional campaigns to gain market share, and steep competition will likely have a lasting effect on all footwear channels. The NPD Group noted that many retailers will use this back-to-school shopping period to evolve from a “basic footwear destination and to develop a larger following.”