Retailers Talk Top-Selling Shoes For Late Spring

Weekend tropical storms, severe hail, tornadoes and impending blizzard conditions in the Rockies aside, the weather is finally breaking across much of the country.

If not breaking altogether, there have certainly been more consistent spurts of warmth and sunshine in the Northeast. Meanwhile, the West Coast has remained on the receiving end of envy with ideal temperatures throughout much of the year.

Analysts and retailers are watching both coasts to see what trends will be hot for late spring and into the summer.

“We don’t believe the consumer on the East Coast has really began wearing sandals and flips just yet,” said Wunderlich Securities Inc. analyst Danielle McCoy. “I have been seeing fashion sneakers everywhere; I think this is a trend that’s really catching on.”

McCoy said it’s “not the traditional Vans or Converse” styles she’s referring to, but a similar slip-on style “with a quilted leather, jeweled or metallic upper, combined with either an espadrille or white rubber platform bottom.”

Los Angeles-based B. Riley & Co. analyst Jeff Van Sinderen said he’s seeing styles by Vans, Nike and Converse, Skechers and Steve Madden do big numbers.

“Sandals and other ‘open’ footwear, espadrilles, bohemian-style,  athletic/athletic derivative and casual-athletic derivative are what seem to be moving well,” said Van Sinderen of West Coast retail trends.

Sperry has also reemerged with a new look and enhanced global marketing, noted McCoy.

In the South, where consumers and retailers were generally spared inconsistent weather, retailers agree that Sperry is on the rise.

“Sperry boat shoes have been phenomenal,” said Brian Shemaria, owner of Bennie’s Shoes, a 116-year-old men’s shoe store in Atlanta. “They’ve always been a big seller for us, but this spring there’s been particular interest in the brand.”

Even with temperatures of upwards of 80 degrees in the South right now, Shemaria said, his male consumers are opting for driving styles — rejecting open-toed sandals altogether.

“I’m seeing men buy more and more driving shoes — Cole Haan especially,” said Shemaria. “They’re putting away sandals these days.”

At Jildor Shoes, a high-end women’s footwear retailer and e-tailer on Long Island, management said women are jumping into Birkenstocks because of their “molded footbeds that are very comfortable to walk in,” as well as espadrilles, which are seeing a solid resurgence.

Rope wedges and styles with a cork influence are also seeing a lot of play as the weather warms, Jildor’s management told FN.

While some popular styles are emerging, total retail traffic in the first week of May has declined overall, says a report by Citi Research analyst Kate McShane.

“According to Weather Trends International (WTI), weather was warmer overall, which is expected to be favorable for spring and summer categories; however, cold weather and snow impacted the West,” McShane wrote in the report. “Overall, temperatures were 1.9 degrees Fahrenheit warmer versus last year and 4 degrees Fahrenheit above normal.”

So it seems weather isn’t always the strongest variable predicting footwear trends or traffic patterns —and higher temperatures don’t magically result in an influx of traffic to retail stores.

Either way, FN will continue to watch the weather and the trends and, as always, we will keep you in the know.

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