Global Footwear Market Rebounds as China Exports Dip

After two years of flat growth, the global footwear sector is starting to rebound.

Overall production of footwear increased in 2017, according to the latest edition of the World Footwear Yearbook. Global footwear markets demonstrated a 2 percent increase in production to 23.5 billion pairs. Though up, the growth rate is considerably lower than the 15.4 percent the industry experienced between 2010 and 2014.

However, World Footwear said, “it represents a return to a positive dynamic. In terms of its geographic distribution, production continues to be heavily concentrated in Asia, where 87 percent of all pairs of footwear are manufactured.”

Global footwear exports inched up 0.7 percent in terms of quantity and 3.7 percent in value terms, thanks to an increase in consumption in Asia.

China, which still manufactures roughly two out of three exported pairs of shoes, has continued to see its market share slide, ceding ground to places like India, Vietnam and Indonesia during a five-year downtrend World Footwear described as “very negative.” Last year, however, exports recovered 0.2 percentage points.

Worldwide, Asia now holds a 54 percent share of all footwear consumption, followed by Europe, which accounts for 16 percent, and North America, which commands 15 percent of global footwear consumption.

China continues to be the largest footwear market in the world while India has overtaken the United States as the second-largest market on the back of positive economic growth and favorable demographics.

Prices for footwear are rising, too.

Last year, the world average export price for footwear increased 3 percent to reach a record $9.18 per pair, a continuation of a trend that has seen the average export price for shoes increase 40 percent over the last decade.

“The average export price in China grew by 62 percent in the last decade, driving much of the global growth,” World Footwear said.

Though it’s long been a key player in the footwear sector, Europe has been gaining further ground in global exports, reaching a 10-year high market share of 13.8 percent in terms of quantity. In value terms, Europe now accounts for 36.7 percent of the global market.

“Europe is also responsible for half of the world’s imports: With 36.2 percent of the total quantity and 49.3 percent of the value, Europe is the most important destination for footwear imports.”

The World Footwear Yearbook has functioned as part of the Portuguese Footwear Association’s initiative to analyze global footwear trends since 2011.

Editor’s Note: This story was reported by FN’s sister magazine Sourcing Journal. For more, visit Sourcingjournal.com.

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