The Italian footwear association Assocalzaturifici warned that restrictive measures introduced over the Christmas shopping period in various countries to combat the propagation of the Covid-19 virus will have “serious repercussions” on an already weakened industry.

In Italy, the government had to reintroduce restrictions with the resurgence of cases and even imposed a total nationwide lockdown between Dec. 24 and Dec. 27 and between Dec. 31 and Jan. 3.

The toughening of measures “compromised Christmas shopping and postponed recovery of demand” and “will have serious repercussions for a sector” that has already seen a loss of 101 companies and of 2,600 employees in the first nine months of 2020, according to Siro Badon, the chairman of Assocalzaturifici. With the inclusion of component suppliers, the loss rises to 231 companies and 3,454 employees, he noted.

In the first nine months of 2020, the Italian footwear industry suffered a 29.4 percent year-on-year drop in production and a 33.1 percent decline in sales.

In the third quarter, the situation improved slightly, thanks to a rebound after the outbreak of the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, with the revenues decreasing by 26.6 percent year-on-year compared with a 36.3 percent contraction in the first half. However, only 14 percent of companies reported to have increased or matched last year’s levels in the third quarter, while more than half of them suffered a 20 to 50 percent drop.

In a survey carried out in October by Confindustria Moda’s research center, and released by Assocalzaturifici, only 11 percent of respondents indicated that third-quarter orders were higher or in line with the previous year, while 41 percent of suffered drops of more than 35 percent. On average, orders are estimated to have declined by 22.4 percent year-on-year between July and September.

Based on the answers received, the survey forecast that the decline in sales for Italian shoe makers would reach €3.9 billion in 2020, or 27.1 percent less than the previous year. However, the survey was done before the worsening of the health crisis and the introduction of harsher restrictions on movement and trade.

In Italy, household spending on footwear fell by 17.8 percent in volume to 92.8 million pairs and by 23.0 percent in value to €3.315 billion, as the average price of shoes dropped by 6.3 percent to €35.72. With the Covid-19 related lockdowns, Italians bought cheaper footwear, such as slippers, to wear at home rather than formal shoes.

During the nine-month period, exports fell by 20.1 percent in volume to 127.1 million pairs and by 17.2 percent in value to €6.430 billion. The average price of shoes exported grew by 3.6 percent to €50.57. Exports to other European Union countries totaled 65 percent of the total in volume. They fell by 16.5 percent in volume to 82.5 million pairs and by 14.5 percent in value to €2.900 billion.

Switzerland was the single largest export market, down by 9.0 percent to €1.192 billion in value and by 16.4 percent in volume to 10.5 million pairs. The country acts as a logistics hub for many fashion brands. France ranked second, down by 20.4 percent to €966.3 million, and by 22.8 percent in volume to 21.8 million pairs, as many Italian shoe makers supply French brands. Germany was third, down by 11.9 percent to €695.5 million and down by 14.1 percent in volume to 21.5 million pairs.

Overall Italian imports fell by 16.5 percent in the nine-month period to €3.506 billion. In volume, shipments fell by 17.7 percent to 224.6 million pairs while the average import price per pair was €15.61, up by 1.5 percent.

Italian imports from China were down by 11.9 percent in value to €605.7 million, followed by France, down by 11.7 percent to €409.1 million, and Belgium, down by 23.5 percent to €304.1 million.

In the period, Italy’s overall trade surplus in footwear decreased by 18.1 percent year-on-year to €2.924 billion.