Global demand for footwear is expected to fall by 22.2 percent this year, due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to an updated forecast made by a panel of experts for the latest Business Condition Survey of World Footwear. In its April edition, panelists had estimated the decline at 22.5 percent.

Consumption is predicted to decline by 24.2 percent, or 795 million pairs, each in Europe and in North America and by 18.2 percent, or 2.2 billion pairs, in Asia. The forecast was improved for Europe and Asia and downgraded for North America.

The survey added that in the first semester of the year, footwear imports fell in almost every country. China was the only of the world’s top 10 footwear importers to increase imports during the period, up by 2.3 percent. In other key Asian economies, imports fell by 2.8 percent in South Korea and by 11.9 percent in Japan.

In Europe, the impact of the pandemic was stronger, with Germany cutting back imports by 11.8 percent in the first half, the Netherlands by 13.6 percent, and Italy, Belgium, the U.K. and France by 20 percent or more. The U.S., the largest import market in the world, experienced a 26.7 percent decline in imports.

Compared with the previous survey, a growing number of panelists now expect the price of footwear to stabilize over the next six months. Previously, most respondents anticipated prices to decline. Currently, 30 percent predict that prices will fall, 49 percent foresee a stabilization and 21 percent an increase. In Europe, 35 percent of respondents expect a decline in prices, 52 percent stability and 13 percent an increase.

Most respondents still expect sales volumes to decline, with 48 percent anticipating a contraction, 27 percent a stabilization and 25 percent an increase. In Europe, 66 percent of respondents foresee a drop, 25 percent stagnation and 9 percent a rise.

The shoe categories that are expected to grow over the next three years are sneakers for daily use, foreseen growing by 75 percent of respondents, other sports-related footwear, seen expanding by 60 percent of interviewees, and other footwear with textile uppers, seen expanding by half the panelists.

The segments most at risk are classic men’s leather footwear, which is expected to decline by 52 percent of panelists, followed by classic women’s leather shoes, seen contracting by 45 percent of them.

The panel continues to forecast that over the next three years digital retail channels will gain market share over brick-and-mortar stores. The survey showed that 84 percent of respondents expect general online sellers to increase their market share, 78 percent anticipate multi-brand online shoe or fashion stores to grow and 71 percent predict that their own brand online store will expand. Meanwhile, most respondents foresee that physical stores, whether large-scale retailers, multi-brand shoe resellers or their own-brand shops, will lose market share.

World Footwear is an initiative of Apiccaps, the Portuguese footwear, components and leathergoods manufacturers’ association.

The survey was carried out online in October. It received 122 valid answers, 56 percent from Europe, 25 percent from Asia, 9 percent from South America, 8 percent from North America and the remainder from other continents. Almost one third (31 percent) of the respondents are involved in footwear manufacturing, 21 percent in footwear trade and distribution and 48 percent in other footwear-related activities such as trade associations, consultancy, journalism, etc.