According to a report issued by Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA), the leading footwear trade association in the U.S., 35 percent of Americans planned to buy shoes online this spring, up from 31 percent in 2017. The latest nationwide survey on the purchasing habits of U.S. footwear consumers was conducted on 755 people by Emerson College Polling Society, under the supervision of professor Spencer Kimball, from April 18 to April 22. The poll was based on a random sample of adults, 18 and older.

Overall, 74 percent of the respondents said they were very likely or somewhat likely to buy new shoes for either themselves or their family this spring season. Among the respondents purchasing shoes, 70 percent said they were buying sneakers and other casual or athletic shoes, while 17 percent said they were buying fashion/dress shoes like heels, flats, or men's oxfords, and 13 percent said they were buying something else.

The proportion of consumers who planned to buy new shoes in a physical store declined to 66 percent, as compared to 77 percent in 2017. However, while the share of online purchases is on the rise, physical stores are still preferred by the majority of U.S. consumers. Of the 66 percent who planned to shop in a physical store, 53 percent were going to go to a local chain store or outlet store. Family-owned shoe stores suffered a major drop, from 17 percent of shoppers using them in 2017 to 4 percent in 2018. Big box retailers like Walmart or Target were chosen by 18 percent of the people, up from 15 percent last year.

The main reason why the majority of consumers opt in the end for a physical store is ensuring proper fit, which was mentioned as a factor  by 50 percent of the respondents, up from 41 percent in 2017, followed by customer service/help with finding and trying on shoes at 22 percent, down from 32 percent last year.

Among the 35 percent of Americans who were considering buying shoes online this spring, those planning to shop on Amazon rose to 52 percent from 47 percent in 2017. When online shoppers were asked about the usefulness of banner ads on websites or on google searches, nearly half (46%) of them said they have little influence on their purchase, and another 26 percent said they do not consider them helpful or even click on them. Yet, one in ten online shoppers said banner ads do have an influence on which shoes they buy, and 18 percent said banner ads influenced where they would buy new shoes.

Nearly a third (29%) of shoe purchasers said they were planning to spend less than last year this spring, marking a significant difference from 2017, when the share of consumers planning to spend less money was more than half (52%). Also, 22 percent said they planned to spend more on shoes this spring, as compared to only 14 percent who said so in 2017.

The two most important factors when purchasing shoes this spring were the need and the cost, both chosen by 39 percent of the respondents. In 2017, the need was more important than the cost, at 37 percent and 30 percent, respectively.