Even as trade war jitters and changes in sourcing have shaken the footwear industry in the United States and abroad, a new report claims the sector should still expect solid growth in demand over the next four years.
In its most recent batch of “Focus Reports,” The Freedonia Group, a division of MarketResearch.com, said the current footwear market will grow 4 percent in value, from $26.8 billion in 2018 to $32.6 billion in 2023. However, the growth will not be equally spread across categories.
While non-athletic footwear demand is expected to outperform the overall category at 4.3 percent growth over the next four years, equalling $22.9 billion of the total industry by 2023, athletic footwear is expected to underperform—growing by just 3.2 percent a year to create $9.8 billion in total value.
“Replacement demand, rising disposable personal income, and the ongoing popularity of active-inspired non-athletic footwear will drive advances,” the market research firm noted.
In a separate survey, Freedonia found that more than 50 percent of all U.S. consumers already own between one to three pairs of athletic footwear. Moreover, purchasing rates are low for the category, as more than half of those surveyed responded that they had purchased either one or zero pairs of athletic footwear in the past twelve months.
Of all athletic footwear, walking shoes are the most popular—22 percent of the U.S. population has purchased a pair in the past year, according to the report. However, the cohort who purchased walking shoes at the highest rate, 6.7 percent, was in the 50-to-64-year-old range, decidedly not the typical athletic footwear brand demographic.
The most popular non-athletic styles among those surveyed were casual sneakers and dress shoes or sandals, and 27 percent said they had purchased a pair in the past year.
“The ongoing athleisure trend contributes to sneaker sales,” Freedonia said. “While low prices for sandals relative to other types of shoes encourages more frequent purchasing.”
Freedonia was also able to tally net footwear imports into the U.S. in 2018, totaling $25.1 billion and representing 96 percent of all total demand. Nike, Adidas, Caleres and Skechers are among the leading suppliers of footwear to the U.S. market.