Footwear Prices & Employment On The Downturn

Retail prices for footwear and employment in the industry have both headed in the same direction — and that’s down — in recent months, according to the latest reports from the Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America (FDRA).

Referencing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the FDRA notes that retail prices for footwear slipped 0.9 percent year over year in June, the first decline since December.

Children’s shoes — a 1.1. percent drop in boys’ and girls’ footwear prices — led the declines followed by a 0.8 percent slip in both men’s and women’s footwear prices.

According to the FDRA, June marks the ninth time in the past 10 months that footwear price changes have underperformed the rate of overall inflation, suggesting “tighter margins for shoe retailers.”

On the employment side, the FDRA notes that the BLS and U.S. Census data for May showed that shoe stores across the country continue to cut employees. According to the FDRA, for the first time since 2012, employment in domestic shoe stores has declined. Specifically, shoe-store employment in May sat at a seasonally adjusted 210,000 workers — also the second fewest workers in a year.

“[Some] would argue this decline in employment is in response to the gradual deceleration in shoe store sales witnessed over the last few years,” the FDRA stated in a recent report.

Still, the FDRA points out, since “rising employment in the sector necessitates higher hourly earnings to attract and retain workers,” a recent but fleeting benefit for retailers— of having lesser shoe-industry workers— is that it could keep rising employment wages low.

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