The statistics presented at the GDS fair by HDS/L, the federation of the German footwear and leathergoods industry, show that the German footwear industry's total revenues increased by 5.7 percent to €1,240 million in the first half of this year compared with the same period in 2013. While domestic sales rose by 9.8 percent in value to €943 million, international sales decreased by 5.7 percent to €314 million.

Shoe imports into Germany rose by 14.6 percent to a record of 340 million pairs of shoes in the first half of the year. In terms of value, they rose from €3.1 billion in the first half of 2013 to €3.58 billion in the first half of this year. Average shoe prices per imported pair dropped by 17 cents from €10.43 in the first four months of last year to €10.26 in the first four months of this year, a decrease of 1.6 percent.

As the GDS fair took place earlier than in previous years, the HDS/L only presented country-specific results for the first four months of this year. The average price from China dropped by 4.3 percent to €5.56 per pair. The price of shoes imported from Vietnam decreased by 6.8 percent to €11.59 per pair, while the price from Italy increased by 7.1 percent to €26.4 per pair.

Imports from China had a share of 53.4 percent of all imports during the period, but imports from Vietnam rose by 30 percent to 33.4 million pairs, and most of the surge took place in the athletic footwear sector. In terms of volume, China and Vietnam are followed by the Netherlands, which increased by 80.1 percent to 12,656,000 pairs. Shoe imports from Indonesia rose slightly to 8,963,000 pairs. Imports from Italy dropped by 0.5 percent to 8,631,000 pairs with a total import value of €227.8 million.

Sales of German shoes abroad, including those manufactured in other countries, rose by 21.4 percent in volume to 120 million pairs in the first half of this year. The average price per pair dropped by 4.1 percent to €15.97. Shoe export to other countries inside the European Union accounted for 75.7 percent of the total volume.

As with the import figures, the HDS/L could only present country-specific export results for the first four months of this year. The highest volume went once again to Slovakia with a total of 12.3 million pairs, an increase of 18.9 percent as compared to the first four months a year ago. Shoe exports to the Netherlands increased by 86.4 percent to 11.3 million pairs. While exports to Poland rose by 7.1 percent to 10.8 million pairs, exports increased by 32.8 percent to France, by 2 percent to Austria and by 1.2 percent to the U.K., where they reached a level of 3 million pairs.

The number of employees in the German shoe sector declined slightly by 0.1 percent to a total of 11,504 in the first half of this year. Official statistics registered 39 companies in the shoe industry with more than 50 employees, two fewer than in the first half of 2013. On the other hand, the available figures show that German shoe industry recorded an extraordinary 37.6 percent increase to 7,912,000 pairs in the volume of shoes produced in country during the first three months of this year. It was not clear whether this sudden spurt was due to a big jump at Birkenstock, which is performing particularly well these days, or perhaps in the safety footwear sector.

Manufacturers charged 2.1 percent more for their shoes in the first half of this year, in spite of a 6.7 percent increase in the price of leather. Consumer prices were up by 0.7 percent as compared to the first half of 2013.

HDS/L is optimistic about the second half of 2014, as the general market conditions are very positive at the moment. The organization expects a moderate increase in the industry's sales of less than 5 percent for the full year and hopes that international sales will recover during the second half.