The shoe industry has felt the brunt of rising inflation and global supply chain disruptions, causing footwear companies to expect weaker-than-usual Q4 sales.
Businesses leveraging data and analytics to help fuel growth are in a better position to mitigate economic headwinds. In this report, we’ve provided key market data and insight into future trends to better support footwear teams trading during these tough times.
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The Assortment Breakdown
Analyzing new arrivals over a three-month period determines how brands are investing in footwear categories vs. 2021. In menswear, sneakers maintained their position as the dominant style US retailers invested in, despite dropping five percentage points (pp) compared to new arrivals in 2021. Retailers pulled back on white and neutral colorways (which tumbled from 19% and 8% of newness to 17% and 4%, respectively) instead investing in black and green.
As expected in FW22 assortments, boots made up the most significant proportion of US women’s footwear styles, though this dropped 4pp YoY. Retailers pulled back on delivering ankle boots, which dipped 26% YoY, while biker boots rose 35% and over-the-knee boots, 5% YoY. Heeled sandals lifted 41% and products described with a platform surged 334% YoY, as retailers banked on going out styles following a lackluster party season due to Omicron in 2021.
By comparing the percentage of new footwear styles advertised as discounted and average discount depths, retailers can understand the performance of categories and how strategies have shifted, giving them an edge on their competitors. The category experiencing the heaviest markdowns for womenswear in the US is sandals, where a larger proportion has been reduced YoY, though at a similar discount depth. As mentioned earlier, this could be chalked up to seasonality or retailers over-indexing on this category so late in the year, resulting in aggressive markdowns to churn through SS21 products.
Compared to last year, men’s boots in the US experienced the most significant variance, with discount depths increasing by 12pp. Desert and Chelsea boots were promoted the steepest, the latter of which experienced a double-digit increase this year, suggesting it hasn’t resonated with consumers in this region. Retailers have not acquired ROI on investment in this style.
The rising cost of petroleum-based fabrics has led to inflated sneaker prices due to this style’s reliance on rubbers for its uppers and soles. Across most instances, sneaker prices have increased between 4%-13% YoY. However, this hasn’t yet deterred consumer demand. Sneakers selling out for the first time between August and November across the US and UK have increased 13% YoY.
Overall, men’s boot pricing was 9% higher in the US while ankle boots came in at $6 more affordable vs. 2021. Additionally, the democratization of the Bikercore trend into the mainstream led to lower prices for women’s moto style boots by almost $17 YoY.
Trends for 2023
Buoyed by the success of HOKA and On-Running, camping and hiking influences will be sought after in footwear. To maximize sales, gear your OTB toward trail sneakers rather than hiking boots, which experienced a 61% and 37% decline in menswear and womenswear, respectively.
Traditionally feminine elements have cropped up on the Spring 2023 runway, while subcultures like Balletcore and Mermaidcore have entered the ever-expanding core aesthetic lexicon. Juxtaposing the above utilitarian trend, bow embellishments, ballet flats and heeled Mary Janes have generated consumer demand, making them a must-have in assortments.
Finally, with sustainability front of mind, promoting repair, reuse and mending will benefit the Craftcore aesthetic fueled by the cost of living crisis. Meld shoes and accessories with kitsch and eco-friendly footwear decorations as championed by Crocs and ASICS.
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