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AAFA Sees Decline in Footwear Imports in 2011

American consumers spent a smaller percentage of their household income on footwear in 2011, according to the American Apparel & Footwear Association’s annual ShoeStats report. 

The snapshot of industry trends, however, noted that the dip in spending does not represent a return to the 2008 and 2009 recession-level consumption. Overall, Americans spent an average of $212 on more than seven pairs of shoes in 2011.

Based on the findings, AAFA President and CEO Kevin Burke painted a hopeful picture of the shoe business. “With a 7.9 percent surge in domestic shoe manufacturing, 2011 was a very positive year for the footwear industry,” he said, noting the year also was marked by an increase in retail sales and growth employment at the manufacturing, wholesale and retail levels. “2011 also represents a shift in sourcing as the industry began to diversify its supply chain away from China to other viable sourcing partners, including the U.S.”

According to the report, 2011 marked the first decline in footwear imports, which fell 0.2 percent from 2010 to total 98.6 percent of all footwear sold in the U.S. AAFA said the number of shoes manufactured in the U.S. increased by 7.9 percent. Meanwhile, total U.S. footwear industry employment grew 1.9 percent in 2011, surpassing 1 million workers for the first time since 2008.

The report went on to note that the value of footwear sales grew by 4.8 percent to $66.1 billion at retail. The growth reflected both the increase in price driven by higher supply chain costs, as well as consumers returning to purchasing shoes with higher price points.

Footwear retail prices continued to inch higher, increasing 0.4 percent in 2011 over 2010. However, the numbers remain relatively depressed, said the AAFA, as overall retail prices for all products rose 35 percent during the same period of time.

Retail sales at stores selling footwear (with the exception of discounters) experienced a slight improvement due to price hikes and a boost in consumer spending.

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