The NPD Group has released a report showing that in these challenging economic times, footwear is coping better than apparel. For the three months through April, NPD found that fashion footwear sales fell by 6.4 percent in the U.S. – but apparel sales dropped at a higher rate of 8.6 percent. Sales of outdoor footwear even rose by 7.9 percent, while those of sport leisure shoes grew by 5.8 percent.

Among the shoe categories that slumped, dress shoes were down by 22.9 percent, performance footwear fell by 11.8 percent and casual shoes decreased by 11 percent.

Sales by online shoe retailers rose by 24.7 percent compared with the same three-month period a year ago, and were up by 10 percent at sporting goods shops. However, mass merchants had a drop in sales of 2.7 percent, and off-price sellers fell by 1.5 percent.

NPD said that customers are shopping less frequently and buying cheaper products, but were still willing to spend some money on shoes.