German retailers recorded a positive first half of this year. The figures reported at the GDS by the German shoe retailers' federation, BDSE, show a 6 percent increase for the period for the sale of shoes through the shoe shops, fashion boutiques, mail-order houses and department stores. On top of that, trading in shoes online is to have increased by 15 percent in the same period, reaching a market share of between 12 and 15 percent including the sales of click-and-mortar retailers.

The association predicts a more moderate increase of 4 to 5 percent for the full year. Excluding e-commerce, the German shoe market is estimated to have reached a value of €6.6 billion in the first half, including €4.6 billion for specialty shoe retailers. Consumer prices for shoes increased on average by 0.7 percent in the first half.

Sales patterns varied a lot from one month to the next in the first half of this year. Shoe retail sales increased moderately by 3 percent in January as compared to the same month in 2013, but then rose by 14 percent in February and by 25 percent in March. They declined by more than 4 percent in April and recovered again in May with an increase of 3-4 percent. In June, they were again off by 4 percent as compared to the same month a year ago.

Brigitte Wischnewski, president of the BDSE, noted that the number of specialized shoe retailers operating in Germany declined to 4,792 in 2012 from 7,247 twelve years earlier. While the retail companies that generate an annual turnover of less than €500,000 saw their share of the market shrink from 17.1 to 9.1 percent, those that make between €10 million and €250 million raised their market share from 18.4 percent to 29.3 percent, and those that have a turnover of more than €250 million grew from 32.4 percent to 38.4 percent of the market.

Besides the increasing concentration of the sector and the expansion of the larger shoe retail chains, traditional shoe retailers are facing other challenges including the intensifying competition from pure online retailers, vertical chains, fashion retailers and sports stores, said Wischnewski. In order to face these challenges, she suggested that the physical shoe stores should optimize the supply chain and make their sales areas more attractive and profitable.