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Footwear Executives Are Concerned About the Economy and a Decline in Shoe Shopping

Footwear executives in Q2 reported a dwindling outlook for the economy and the shoe industry over the next six months, a new survey finds.

In its quarterly survey of leaders at the top 100 shoe companies, the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA) found that 87.1% of executives expect to see shopper strength weaken, marking the fourth quarter of dwindling sentiment in this category.

Just 37.4% of respondents reported that their company sales were higher than six months ago, down from about half of respondents in Q1. Only 31% expect company sales to rise over the next 6 months, down from over half in Q1, and 48.3% see sales exceeding pre-COVID levels. Almost two thirds of respondents saw no changes from hiring pauses in Q2.

When it comes to specific concerns, a record 34.5% of respondents said new consumer behavior shifts were the biggest business issue expected over the next six months. In recent months, various retailers have reported surges in inventory as consumers shift their shopping preferences.

Over 1/3 of respondents cited inflation as their company’s biggest issue over the next 6 months. In the most recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer prices rose by 8.6% in May compared to a year ago. And footwear prices grew 4.5% in May compared to last year, FDRA found. This increase, while the slowest in six months, still represented a faster growth rate than usual and the FDRA predicts that footwear prices in 2022 could likely rise at the fastest rate in decades.

Given the current economic environment, consumer sentiment is also falling. A similar survey from FDRA released in April that found that almost half (48%) of footwear consumers planned to spend less on shoes this spring than last year. The survey also found that 49% of shoe shoppers were putting off footwear purchases because of inflation.

Consumers have recently been expressing more concern about mounting inflation pressures, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Center for Microeconomic Data. In May, median inflation expectations for the year ahead increased from 6.3% to 6.6% in May, up 0.3% from April, the New York Fed said. This marked the highest recorded rate of survey since June 2013, tied with March.

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