NPD: Footwear Less Challenged Than Apparel

All things considered, footwear is faring better than apparel in the current economy, according to a new study by The NPD Group.

The report states that for the three months ended in April, fashion footwear sales were down 6.4 percent, compared with apparel sales, which declined 8.6 percent.

Some footwear categories even managed an increase. Sales of outdoor footwear rose 7.9 percent, while sport leisure increased 5.8 percent.

Among the declines, dress shoes topped the list, dropping 22.9 percent. Performance footwear declined 11.8 percent, while casual shoes fell 11 percent.

“What this shows me is that when the product is right and offers multiple reasons for wear, the purchases will come,” NPD chief industry analyst Marshal Cohen, said in a statement. “Consumers are showing they want footwear and are willing to show their passion on their feet rather than on their backs.”

The survey also found that while consumers are shopping less often and buying less-expensive products, they are still willing to spend for shoes. However, they are altering where they buy.

The group’s tracking records showed that sales at online footwear retailers rose 24.7 percent, compared with the same period a year ago. Sales at sporting goods stores rose 10 percent. Footwear sales at mass merchant accounts were down 2.7 percent, while off-price sellers declined 1.5 percent.

“Consumers are finding the widest selection of product available online, coupled with free shipping and the convenience of no parking hassles,” said Cohen. “It looks like a winning combination.”

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