US Footwear Industry Breaks Record, Hits Over $100 Billion in Spending for 2021

The American footwear industry just had its best year yet.

The industry broke annual records at over $100 billion reached in total spending, according to data from the Footwear Distributers and Retailers of America (FDRA). Consumer spending on footwear jumped 20.5% in December compared to December of last year. Overall, footwear sales in December pushed full-year footwear spending to hit a 29.8% gain in 2021.

“The resiliency of the American footwear industry cannot be overstated,” said FDRA president and CEO Matt Priest. “Despite major supply chain disruptions, higher tariffs and Covid, our companies blew past previous record sales and surpassed $100 billion in consumer demand for the first time ever. That is nearly $17 billion more than the previous record in 2019. It is an unbelievable triumph that speaks to how innovative, dynamic, hardworking and creative footwear professionals are across the U.S. Congratulations to our amazing members for literally the best year in history. We look forward to helping companies continue to boost their business, and we hope 2022 brings sustained lasting growth.”

Generally, consumer spending dropped 0.6%, or by $95.2 billion, in December compared to November 2021 according to Friday data from the Commerce Department. When adjusted for inflation, spending fell 1%.

The drop in December overall spending comes after consecutive months of spending growth in November, October and September. (In November, personal household spending rose a modest 0.6% compared to October). It also suggests that many people completed their holiday shopping earlier than usual in November this year, amid concerns from the Omicron variant and supply chain problems.

Spending on goods in December decreased 3.1% while spending services increased 0.1%.

December’s retail sales were also down 1.9% compared to November 2021, also likely a result of more people completing their holiday shopping earlier in the season to avoid stock-outs from supply chain issues. However, compared to 2020, December retail sales were up $626.8 billion, marking an increase of 16.9% from December 2020.

Overall, total sales throughout 2021 were up 19.3% from 2020. Sales between October 2021 and December 2021 were up 17.1% compared to the same period in 2020.

Meanwhile, the price index, a sign of inflation, grew 5.8% in December compared to a year ago, and 0.4% from November, the Commerce Department said.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly report, inflation prices in December rose by 7% compared to a year ago. This number was up from the 6.8% growth in November and represented the highest inflation rate since the 12-month period ending in June 1982.

Despite the slowdown in spending, the unemployment rate in December was down 0.3 percentage points month over month to 3.9%, with 6.3 million people unemployed in December. While unemployment levels are still above pre-pandemic levels, December marked a month of slight improvement.

Average hourly wages for the month also increased 19 cents to $31.31. In the last year, average hourly wages have increased by 4.7%.

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