Boots Drive Holiday Sales For Footwear Retailers

Holiday selling is still in full swing, with many retailers optimistic that they will finish on a high note. They have good reason to think so: Consumer confidence was up in December.

According to the Conference Board’s index, consumer confidence increased to 92.6 during the holiday month, compared with November’s 91.0 and tracking to finish out 2014 strong.

While sales continued to be a surefire way to lure customers into stores, trend-right product, such as boots, has driven business this Christmas.

Michael Wittenstein, GM of Karavel Shoes in Austin, Texas, said holiday sales outpaced last year’s, due in part to better weather. “Last year, people didn’t want to get out on the road,” he said, referring to icy roads. But this year’s unseasonably warm weather brought shoppers out.

Although the store typically does not do promotions, Wittenstein said it offered a 30 percent discount this holiday season. It continued with an email blast to customers promoting a private sale, which was later advertised to the public. In addition, a direct mail piece was sent to customers who had not been in for over a year,  offering 20 percent off their next purchase. “We try not to discount much, but these days you have to do something,” said Wittenstein. “It’s a call to action to get customers back in.”

Boots were a top seller. “We didn’t have enough,” said Wittenstein. “Based on last season, we stuck with short boots on low heels, and they all did very well.”

Brianna Moteberg, owner of Jackson Bootlegger in Jackson Hole, Wyo., said holiday sales exceeded those of 2014. “It was attributed to Sorels,” she said. “We had stock. Many people got them [from] our website, and we [also] sold them in town.”

Sorel was strong seller throughout last year, Moteberg said, so the store is increasing its buy for this year. “It had the sell-through we were hoping for,” she said. Also a strong seller was Dansko’s new faux shearling-lined boot. “I was a little hesitant about it, but it had a great sell-through.”

According to Moteberg, promotions weren’t necessary to get customers into the store. “We don’t need [them] this time of year,” she said. Instead, end- of-season sales will kick off President’s Day weekend.

Dee Mooney, co-owner of Footwise in Corvallis, Ore., said some categories did better than expected, while others came up short. “Birkenstock did well this season. We expected it to, and it did. We found that some of the boots and winter product suffered a little by not having the cold weather we’ve had in the past.” However, low casual boots, especially from Teva and Dromedaris, sold well.

The store did the same discounting as last year. “We tried to avoid a lot of deep discounting before Christmas,” she said. “Instead, we worked on monitoring our inventory levels toward what we could sell at full price.” Now the store’s readying for its first-of-the-year sale to further reduce inventory.






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