Overall footwear sales are forecasted to decline this holiday season as other factors compete for consumer spending
CHICAGO, September 27, 2023 – As the impact of the return to in-person work and special occasions is put behind us, the trend line for footwear sales in the U.S. has less peaks and valleys this year, but the industry is experiencing soft demand. Footwear sales revenue declined by 3% from January through August 2023, versus last year, and units sold also decreased, according to Circana, formerly IRI and The NPD Group.
“Economic and experiential factors from higher prices and student loan repayments to travel plans are competing for consumers’ share of wallet,” said Beth Goldstein, footwear and accessories industry analyst at Circana. “When they are buying footwear, consumers are choosing more versatile and seasonless styles such as sneakers, loafers, and ballerinas,” said Goldstein.
Below are the footwear styles that are trending this year, based on Circana’s Retail Tracking Service data. These segments are growing based on both dollar sales and units sold, indicating heightened demand in a challenged environment:
Adult road running shoes grew 6% based on dollar sales from January through August 2023, versus last year. The running segment is benefiting from the higher price points of hot brands that encompass both performance and fashion elements.
Influenced by the popularity of these sports, dollar sales grew for basketball shoes, up 13%, tennis shoes, increasing 42%, and soccer footwear, rising 16%. These sports are also having an impact on fashion, with sales up double digits for basketball, tennis, and soccer-inspired sneakers, which have a performance-based heritage but intended for everyday wear.
On the fashion side, drivers and loafers are casual yet more tailored options that are growing in both the men’s and women’s segments of the market. This year, dollar sales grew by 19% through August. Ballerinas are also trending, with year over year sales up 14%.
Stepping into the holiday season, footwear sales are forecasted to decline overall in the fourth quarter, compared to 2022, according to Circana’s latest Future of Footwear findings. “Despite early brand and retailer promotions, there will be a last-minute push that likely will not be enough to offset the declines,” said Goldstein. “The various footwear categories will follow different sales trajectories, with some peaking earlier in the season and others, like the more gift-oriented styles, later.”
Looking forward to 2024, both dollar and unit sales are forecasted to flatten as average prices will also level off. “Success will be measured by market share gains,” said Goldstein. “Brands and retailers will need to be innovative with their product offerings, distribution, and marketing strategies.”