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Footwear market - areas of growth, signs of hope - NPD

Jun '09
The NPD Group reports that while overall sales of fashion footwear were down in the most recent quarter, the segment fared better than apparel; and there were pockets of growth within the footwear market.

NPD found fashion footwear less challenged than apparel in terms of overall sales. For the three months ending in April 2009, overall apparel sales were down 8.6 percent while fashion footwear sales for the same time period were down 6.4 percent.

There are two categories in the footwear market that showed sales increases in spite of the particularly tough economic climate in the early part of this year. They are sport leisure, and outdoor. Both categories posted dollar volume growth in the three months ending April 2009.

“What this shows me, is that when the product is right and offers multiple reasons for wear, the purchases will come.” said Marshal Cohen, Chief Industry Analyst for The NPD Group, Inc. “Consumers are showing they want footwear and are willing to show their passion on their feet rather than on their backs.”

Bright spots were also evident in channel trends. Sporting goods stores and online retailers posted positive results despite the economy. While the off price and discount/mass merchants channels did post declines, they were not as deep as some of the other channels or the total fashion footwear market.

“Consumers are changing the way they shop, shopping less overall and shopping less expensively,” said Cohen. “But, at least in footwear, the consumer isn't abandoning shopping altogether.”

The Online channel is the clear leader posting double digit growth numbers. “Consumers are finding the widest selection of product available online coupled with free shipping and the convenience of no parking hassles, it looks like a winning combination.” observed Cohen.

Another bright spot for the industry is children's footwear. During the three months ending in April 2009, children's footwear posted an 11.8 percent dollar volume sales increase. "Not only is this double digit growth an incredible accomplishment given the time, it is likely to be a very hopeful sign for our next important retail season, Back-To-School,” said Cohen.

NPD Group Inc

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