Retail Check-In: How Father’s Day Shaped Up, Fourth of July Expectations

The shoe industry’s retail traffic numbers for the third week of June show year-over-year gains that were bolstered, insiders say, by the Father’s Day holiday.

Data for the past week show a 4.10 percent increase in U.S. retail store visits this year, compared with declines of 6.73 percent last year— a spike that both Cowen & Company analyst Oliver Chen and Citi Research analyst Kate McShane attribute to the dad celebrations.

Chen said the holiday’s shift — it fell a week later this year than last year — likely accelerated June’s third week at the expense of the month’s second week.

“In [June’s third week], all four regions of the U.S. saw positive traffic [year-over-year] and an acceleration on a two-year stack helped by the timing shift of Father’s Day,” noted Chen. “Regarding specific regional performance, the Midwest increased 4.88 percent, the South grew 4.48 percent, the Northeast increased 3.63 percent, and the West increased 3.46 percent (year-over-year/June week 3).”

While these numbers are a good starting place, they don’t give much insight into what retailers are seeing in stores.

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Roger DaCosta, assistant manager at New York’s Tip Top shoes and Matt Green, manager at Bennie’s Shoes in Atlanta, said they saw a marked change in the kinds of shoppers dominating their sales floors this year.

“This Father’s Day, mostly women came in to buy shoes for their husbands and boyfriends versus last year when we saw more children coming in to shop for their dads,” said DaCosta.

Green and another Bennie’s manager, Golden Thornton, said they too observed a similar trend but found that the types of shoes that sold this year didn’t change much.

“We had a lot of women come in to buy moccasin driver styles by Cole Haan, Allen Edmonds and Clarks,” Green said. “They continue to be our most popular styles.”

Da Costa said Tip Top’s big sellers were Nike’s Pegasus, Air Waffle Trainer and Internationalist.

Green noted that while he believes Bennie’s advertising for the holiday helped to create an uptick in traffic, this year’s volumes were slightly lower than years past. Green attributes that change, he said, to nicer weather in the South motivating people to engage in more outdoor activities as opposed to shopping.

Looking ahead to the next holiday traffic catalyst, the Fourth of July, analyst Chen predicts that the timing shift to Saturday versus Friday last year could be slightly negative for weekly traffic.

Green, however, said Bennie’s is typically closed when the holiday falls on a weekday and hopes that the shift to Saturday will benefit the store.

“We usually have a Fourth of July ad in the paper promoting a few of our shoes and we expect more business especially since we’ll be open on the actual holiday,” Green said, adding that brands Cole Haan, Clarks and Rockport will likely be promoted.

DaCosta said, particularly among the sneaker community, the hype for Fourth of July could be “hit or miss.”

“We definitely plan on having some exclusive Fourth of July-inspired sneakers in the store,” explained DaCosta. “However, within the streetwear community, the holiday behind the shoe tends to be irrelevant—the shoe itself has to be hot.”

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