According to a study conducted by the Institute for Retail Research (IFH) in Cologne together with BBE, a German consultancy for the retail industry, consumers in the 28 member countries of the European Union spent about €67 billion on shoes in 2017. This amounted to an average consumption per capita of €130, but within the older and more advanced EU-15 member states, it amounted to €147.

These markets represent 90 percent of the EU's total market volume for shoes. They are Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Sweden, Spain and Great Britain. The U.K. is the biggest market for footwear, followed by Italy, Germany and France.

Per capita expenditure was highest in Luxemburg and Austria, followed by the U.K. In Germany, consumers spent on average only €120 on shoes, possibly because they are generally less fashion-oriented.

Total sales of shoes in the 28 member countries of the EU increased from 2013 to 2017 at an average annual rate of 2.1 percent, benefiting from continued good economic growth, increasing spending on footwear, and the growth of the population as well. According to Eurostat data, there were 6.3 million more people living in Europe in 2017 than in 2013.

While the EU-15 markets represent the biggest proportion of total sales in the European shoe market, the EU-13 countries, which consist of all Eastern European member states plus Malta and Cyprus, recorded a much stronger increase in sales between 2013 to 2017. Total sales of footwear in those countries increased at nearly double the rate of the older member states, or by 15 percent overall during the period.

Sales of shoes in Poland and Croatia have been rising at a double-digit rate, while some of the EU-15 markets are already saturated or declining. On the other hand, annual per capita expenditures on footwear in the EU-13 countries is still very low at a level of only €67. 

Athletic footwear is still the best-selling segment of the European shoe market. The study conducted by the IFH and the BBE calculates that athletic footwear accounted for 23.4 percent of total retail sales of shoes in terms of value in the EU in 2017. While leather shoes lost 5.5 percentage points of market share in Germany from 2013 to 2017, athletic shoes increased their market share by 4.4 percentage points during the same period.

The study by the IFH and the BBE is available for purchase on the IFH's website.