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Why Brazil’s Footwear Industry Is Banking on the Return of Physical Trade Shows

Despite COVID-19 cases soaring in Brazil and the pandemic threatening production and footwear manufacturing there in 2020, the country is on the road to recovery.

Factories are up and running, health and safety protocols are in place, and exports are on the rise.

According to data gathered by the Brazilian Footwear Industries Association (Abicalçados), in the first two months of the year, the main destination for Brazilian shoes was the United States, with 2 million pairs exported, with a value of about $26.32 million.

In February exports totaled $61.58 million, with 9.97 million pairs shipped globally. The results are higher both in volume (+2.5%) and in value (+1.1%) in relation to January. However, when compared with the results referring to year to prior the data still indicates decreases of 5.9% in volume and 18.1% in value.

“We had a drop of 18% in production last year, but we are foreseeing to increase about 12% this year,” Letícia Sperb Masselli, manager of the Brazilian Footwear Project, told FN. “We trust that the exports will help us with the production so the factories can go back to working a hundred percent.”

She said 2021 results won’t be what the group expected, due to increased cases in the beginning of the year. And the continuity of the immunization process in Brazil — and globally — will be an important factor in the recovery.

Part of Brazil’s rebound has been adapting to digital and relying on trade shows to strengthen the presence of the country’s footwear companies internationally.

Digitally, Abicalçados partnered with B2B platform Joor that utilized its virtual showrooms and network of over 12,500 brands and more than 300,000 retailers in 144 countries during the pandemic, as well launching the “Brasil Fashion Now” B2B project in 2020.

Last month, at the Micam Milano Digital Show, 17 Brazilian footwear brands — including Pampili, Opananken, Pegada, West Coast and Cravo & Canela —  generated $1.5 million in business.

“While there has been a great success with the Joor Platform, Brazilian brands are pursuing a hybrid approach going forward,” said Abicalçados’s Trade Promotion analyst, Ruisa Scheffel. Now, the group is looking to continue the partnership with virtual platforms but also to a return to in-person trade shows.

In August, Abicalçados will have a physical prescence at Magic and Sourcing in Las Vegas, the Atlantic Shoe Market and Coterie in New York in September.

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