Port Washington, N.Y., February 16, 2023 – Following pandemic-fueled volatility since 2020, U.S. footwear industry sales are expected to stabilize over the next three years, according to The NPD Group. This “slow and steady” storyline will play out across the major footwear categories, as lines continue to blur across fashion, leisure, and performance.
The latest Future of Footwear forecast reports that the industry will grow sales revenue at a steady pace of 1% through 2025, with unit sales beginning to improve in 2024, as the pressure from average price increases will ease. Consumers will look to maximize versatility with their upcoming footwear purchases, as shoes good for “casual everyday use” will top the reasons for purchase in the first half of 2023.
“This will be a reset year for the footwear industry,” said Beth Goldstein, footwear and accessories analyst at NPD. “After three years of ups and downs, we can expect sales and price trends will level out as consumers settle into their now-familiar lifestyles and make strategic choices about their must-haves versus their nice-to-haves, as they continue to grapple with macroeconomic pressures.”
The sport leisure category generated the highest sales in 2022, but fashion footwear was the biggest driver of growth as the return to workplaces, events, and other activities brought attention back to more formal footwear categories. “While the fashion footwear market will continue to benefit from these social behaviors in 2023, their impact will begin to level off, as the replenishment needs that propelled the category in 2022 will slow,” said Goldstein.
As consumers weigh their priorities, the blurring of fashion and athletic footwear will continue to be part of the equation. Casual footwear, sneakers, and athletic footwear are most likely to be considered necessities, compared to dress footwear, outdoor shoes, and slippers, which are more likely to be viewed as non-essential.
“In a market projected to remain steady at the topline level for the near term, the key growth opportunity for footwear brands in this environment will be taking market share,” said Goldstein. “Part of this strategy will involve keeping pace with the demands of consumers who have become more deliberate in their purchases. The other part will be navigating a channel landscape that is far from static.”
Future of Footwear forecasts are based on The NPD Group’s Retail Tracking Service, which does not include direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales.