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Back-to-School Shopping Season Poised to Give Footwear a Boost

Good news for footwear brands: sales of children’s shoes is poised to see an increase thanks to the back-to-school shopping season.

The Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA) teamed up with First Insight to poll 691 households about back-to-school shopping intentions. The households had children who were attending elementary school through college. The goal was to help brands and merchants better understand what to expect this b-t-s shopping season.

In a statement, First Insight said the report was made to “uncover how soaring inflation and a potential recession on the horizon will impact this year’s back-to-school shopping season, as well as the economic health of the footwear industry overall.” The report was also done to explore consumer behavior shifts, “such as the role of social media, as both parents and children use major platforms and influencers to inform their purchases.”

The results are encouraging for footwear brands. The report revealed that 78 percent or respondents said they plan to spend more or the same as last year on children’s footwear. And 36 percent said they expect to spend at least $200 in total for b-t-s footwear this year, which is two times the rate as last year. And 63 percent of respondents said they plan to spend $75 or less on footwear this year, compared to 81 percent last year.

This consumer poll follows a prior report of footwear industry leaders regarding their top business concerns.

Andy Polk, senior vice president at the FDRA, said the organization’s survey of 100 of the top footwear CEOs revealed that their biggest concern “as we start the back-to-school season is no longer supply chain issues, but consumer behavior shifts as the economy slows and inflation continues to eat into pocketbooks. That is why this [current] report is so important because it gets us closer to understanding where families plan to shop, how much they are expecting to spend, and what is influencing their choices.”

Polk said the consumer survey “is also extremely important to understanding the health of the U.S. economy as footwear is a vital barometer as a product families must purchase. It shows several interesting shifts occurring in family spending and channels.”

Other key findings of the report include that 67 percent of families said they are shopping online more this year due to higher gas prices. And 61 percent plan on using social media for shopping, “with Facebook leading the way,” the authors of the report said, adding that 21 percent of those polled “will purchase shoes exclusively online for back-to-school.”

“FDRA’s recent survey of 100 of the top shoe CEOs revealed their biggest concern as we start the back-to-school season is no longer supply chain issues, but consumer behavior shifts as the economy slows and inflation continues to eat into pocketbooks. That is why this report is so important because it gets us closer to understanding where families plan to shop, how much they are expecting to spend, and what is influencing their choices,” said FDRA senior vice president Andy Polk. “This survey is also extremely important to understanding the health of the U.S. economy as footwear is a vital barometer as a product families must purchase. It shows several interesting shifts occurring in family spending and channels.”

Greg Petro, CEO of First Insight, said with inflation rates at 40-year highs “clearly taking a toll on consumer confidence, it’s more important than ever for brands and retailers to gain and use granular, real-time insight into their customers’ changing needs and willingness to spend.”

Petro said implementing his company’s Voice of the Customer predictive analytics and digital product testing “enables retailers and brands to get the right products to market faster by refining buys and eliminating poor performers before they are even produced. With First Insight, brands get actionable feedback from their constantly changing customers to ensure that consumers are getting the products they want at the right price.”

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