Comfy & Cozy Dominate the Holidays, As Footwear Poised to Achieve Double-Digit Growth This Season

U.S. consumers are embracing more casual and cozy fashion and footwear styles this holiday season, that’s according to new data from The NPD Group Inc.

With higher average prices, heightened demand for cozy fashion styles and tight inventory, footwear is forecasted to achieve double-digit growth this holiday season, compared with 2020, and single-digit growth versus 2019, according to NPD’s “Future of Footwear” findings.

Interestingly, in the U.S. footwear space, cozy items have grown beyond slippers and boots to include sandals, clogs and even sneakers. Footwear with visible fur-like features outperformed fur-free styles in the first nine months of the year.

Athleisure styles and other casual bestsellers, as well as slippers, continue to be popularized on social media and resonate with consumers of all ages, who have proven willing to pay full price for the footwear they want, according to Beth Goldstein, fashion footwear and accessories analyst at NPD. “These are likely to be some of the most coveted footwear items of the season, so promotions have been selective here,” she said.

But, according to Goldstein, promotions are still taking place. “We did find promotions so far this season for some of footwear’s hottest brands,” Goldstein told FN. “But the items were only marked about 10% to 15% off instead of the typical 30% to 40% you’d see in apparel. Promotions are a little less steep this year than in the past.”

Overall, Goldstein expects the sneaker business to continue to outperform the fashion footwear category. “I do still expect, overall, that the dress business is still struggling. There is a little bit of a boost because of the holiday season. But it’s not back to where it was two years ago. Casual business will continue to out-perform.”

As for apparel, NPD reports that nearly one-third of fourth-quarter apparel sales in the U.S. are expected to come from cozy categories like sweatshirts, sweatpants, sleepwear and socks. When it comes to socks, new styles, comfort and texture are among the top factors influencing purchases. Slippers, cozy and indoor socks will see the bulk of their annual revenues take place in the fourth quarter, after already posting triple-digit growth compared with pre-pandemic 2019.

In the women’s denim and active bottoms categories, looser fitting styles are gaining share. This trend is shifting some sales away from the skinny style for both jeans and active bottoms.

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