Ugg Gives Footwear Retailers a Big Boost

NEW YORK — During an otherwise dismal fall season, Ugg is once again proving to be a major bright spot for footwear retailers.

As parent company Deckers Outdoor Corp. reported last Thursday a 57 percent spike in third-quarter Ugg sales to $178.7 million, merchants told Footwear News that the brand remains a key fashion staple. Many said they have stocked more of the boots than in the previous year.

“Our Ugg business is still very strong. We bought more than last year and [the brand] is exceeding that year’s sales performance,” said Debbie King, VP and DMM of women’s shoes at Bloomingdale’s. “The [Ugg] business is doing well and will really pick up in November and December.”

Indeed, Deckers said that for the quarter ended Sept. 30, it had increased domestic orders for its fall line and seen higher shipments to international distributors.

At Zappos.com, Jeanne Markel, director of casual lifestyle, said that even in the current environment, Ugg sales haven’t slowed. “We are experiencing higher sell-throughs both year to date and thus far [in October],” said Markel. “They seem to start selling earlier in the season every year. Consumers are truly becoming aware of the high demand for the product and are buying them as soon as they can get their hands on them.”

The Tannery, one of the brands’ largest independent accounts, already sold the majority of its Ugg stock that had been allocated to last through December. Customers both young and old are clamoring for the brand at the Tannery shops in Boston and Cambridge, Mass.

“I sold a short, classic Ugg to an 82-year-old woman,” said co-owner Sam Hassan, who noted that the brand’s sales have tripled from last year. “I’m selling them [to customers] from 12 years old to 82 years old,”

Meanwhile, at Globe Shoe Co. in Savannah, Ga., manager Dan Johnston said Ugg’s fashion, brand image and practicality — as well as its limited distribution — make the brand appealing even in a conservative spending environment.

“There always have been people wanting them when they’re sold out,” said Johnston. “[Ugg] is at the right end in terms of [price], fashion and what’s popular.”

In Pismo Beach, Calif., Shoe Tree’s Ugg business doesn’t typically pick up until November, but store GM Keric Rowlee said European tourists in the resort town have snapped up the bulk of his stock, even though temperatures hovered around the 70s and 80s last week.

Moving into the holiday season, he also expects the brand to be a key gift item, despite the mild climate in California. “If it’s 80 degrees [on] Christmas, I don’t think [weather makes] a bit of difference,” he said. “They’ll buy them no matter what.”

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