Footwear Retailers’ 2009 Outlook Cautious

Though many footwear retailers fared well during the holiday shopping rush, the outlook for 2009 remains uncertain for most.

According to the monthly ForecastIQ service from Prosper Technologies LLC, department and specialty stores continue to be most likely to see a decline in same-store growth going into January and February, while discounters should see an increase.

“Looking toward 2009, I’m still not sure,” said Chuck Gordon, owner of Gordon Shoes in Pittsburgh. “Just because we’re getting a spike right now doesn’t mean it will carry over into January or February.”

Todd Kirssin, DMM of footwear at Hanover, Md.-based Downtown Locker Room, said an increase in holiday sales has left him optimistic going into 2009.

“This week has been really encouraging,” he said. “We’re still rife with inventory and think we’ll still have good days after the holidays.”

Kirssin also said DTLR, which has added about 50 stores in the last decade, is still planning to open at least five new doors in 2009, despite the rocky economic climate. “We’re waiting because we think there’s going to be some great real estate deals,” he said.

Zappos.com is also excited by the opportunities available going into 2009, said Steve Hill, DMM of merchandising.

“We’ll continue to do everything we can to wow both our current customers and new customers who discover us for the first time,” he said. “Now more than ever customers are looking for retailers that can make the shopping experience an enjoyable one.”

Many retailers predicted that consumers will expect the rock-bottom holiday prices to continue into the new year.

“People are definitely out and definitely looking for deals,” said Isack Fadlon of Sportie LA in Los Angeles. “A lot people are looking for sales and looking to see what’s marked down.”

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