Why Kids’ Shoes Are the Fastest-Growing Segment in the Footwear Market

Kids’ shoes are the fastest-growing segment of the footwear market, according to new data from Circana (formerly IRI and The NPD Group).

Consumers spent more on kids’ footwear thanks to average price increases, the analytics firm’s consumer tracking service showed. Plus, spending per buyer grew 9 percent, year-over-year, according to Circana’s Checkout data, which tracks product sales based on consumer sales receipts.

This rise in spending for kids’ footwear comes as more parents are forgoing footwear purchases for themselves. Among households with kids under the age of 18, overall footwear sales revenue declined by 1 percent and unit sales fell 8 percent, year-over-year, Circana said. Conversely, among households without kids, sales revenue grew by 11 percent and unit sales were flat.

On a generational level, Circana found that Millennial households with kids represented about one-quarter of total footwear market declines, and Gen Z households with kids generated half of the declines. Sales of adult footwear drove the declines among these segments, while their spending on kids’ footwear grew. In contrast, Millennial households without kids accounted for almost 45 percent of the annual growth in the market.

“Families are obviously feeling the pressure from inflation,” Beth Goldstein, footwear and accessories analyst at Circana, said in a statement. “Without the government assistance that many households with children had previously received, they are now prioritizing their kids’ footwear replacement needs over their own.”

The rise in kids’ footwear sales comes as more brands are getting into the growing category. Last month, Kane Footwear revealed its debut kids’ collection, featuring its sustainable Revive shoe in several colorways.

The Revive Kids features a closed-toe design and a pull tab above the heel — which Kane Footwear said is ideal for school — and is made with renewable plant-based foam, which the brand said is waterproof and “easy to clean.” The look, the brand explained, was made with young student athletes who play multiple sports and are seeking recovery post-workout in mind.

Luxury brands are also dipping their toes in the category. In October, Christian Louboutin launched the LoubiFamily collection of children’s shoes and pet accessories. The line includes kids’ Mary Janes and sneakers, as well as dog collars and leashes.

Access exclusive content