Comfortable Shoes to Dominate Footwear Sales This Holiday Season

After a strong third quarter, in which the U.S. footwear market grew 6 percent, the outlook for Q4 — and the rest of the holiday season — is equally bright. And it’s all thanks to the increasing popularity of athleisure “fashion sneakers” and slippers. Or in other words, consumer demand for comfort.

“Fashion sneakers have driven half of the fashion footwear market’s growth so far this year, and I expect this category to remain very important through [the] holiday [season],” Beth Goldstein, executive director and industry analyst at market research company NPD Group, said in a new report on holiday footwear trends and predictions. “While consumers will look to get dressed up for holiday festivities, comfort is the key word. Brands that are incorporating fashion along with athletic and comfort elements will win.”

She points to the Danish word “hygge,” a mood that revolves around coziness, comfort and general feelings of contentment, as the reason for rising slipper sales, which were up double digits in Q3. As retailers ramp up their holiday offerings, Goldstein only sees the trend gaining more momentum. Winter boots with fluffy detailing might benefit from the hygge movement as well.

While fashion sneakers have dominated footwear sales for the better part of this year, cold-weather boots are expected to close the gap. Overall, consumer confidence is reportedly at an 18-year high, which has led many analysts to anticipate a high shopping turnout for Black Friday and the rest of the holiday season. Even so, buyers are still making conscious shopping decisions, with about a third who are planning to use customer reviews and personal recommendations to help guide their purchase, according to NPD’s annual Holiday Purchase Intentions Survey. Functional, multitasking shoes that place an emphasis on value will likely do well.

And seeing as how 29 percent of footwear sales are from the internet, Goldstein expects more shoppers to make their footwear purchases online or on their phone, especially as retailers like Target and Amazon are waiving shipping costs during the holidays.

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