The statistics laid out at the GDS fair by the federation of the German footwear industry, HDS, show that it experienced a double-digit increase of 15.3 percent in its sales revenues the first half of 2011. Considering that it already recovered from the financial crisis in 2010 with a 10 percent increase, the new score is truly exceptional. The German shoe industry reached sales of €1.262 billion in the first half of 2011, compared with €1.095 billion in the first half of 2010.

In contrast to a big growth in the first five months of the year, the industry recorded a decline in turnover in June compared with June 2010. Given the shoe industry's very strong second half in 2010, it will be difficult to remain on a growth path in the second half of 2011. Due to uncertainty in world markets and the economic crisis in Europe, the expectations for the second half of 2011 are lower than at the beginning of the year.

The sector's mood is still positive, though, as August was very successful for the industry, operating almost at full capacity. The number of employees in the German shoe sector rose again to 11,150 in the first half of 2011, representing a 4.3 percent increase year-on-year.

Consumer prices for shoes rose moderately by 1.1 percent in Germany, probably mainly due to the discontinuation of the EU anti-dumping measures at the end of March 2011. Because of that, the German shoe industry was able to make up for rising prices for raw materials and wages.

While German shoe companies are now getting their products made at many different foreign locations, HDS also reported a 0.9 increase in the number of shoes produced in Germany during the first quarter of 2011. Striking results were obtained in men's leather walking shoes, women's leather walking shoes and safety shoes with leather uppers.

For its part, the German Leather Federation, VDL, said that the value of Germany's leather production increased by 19.6 percent to €204 million in the first half of 2011. The total for 2010 had been €350 million, which represented an increase of 30 percent compared with 2009. According to VDL, the first-half figure for 2011 was almost at the same level as before the financial crisis.

Overseas trade in hides and skins increased by between 6 and 7 percent in volume in the first half of this year, but by 37 percent in value. German raw hides and skins grew in price by at least 35 percent in the first six months of this year compared with 2010.

Back to the German shoe industry, domestic sales grew by 15.7 percent to €926 million in the first half of 2011. Foreign sales recorded an increase of 14.2 percent to €336 million, with exports accounting for 26.6 percent of the companies' total revenues, 0.3 percentage points less than the year before. All these figures include footwear made by German shoe companies abroad.

Shoe imports into Germany increased by 13.8 percent to 310 million pairs in the first half of 2011. Only 18 percent of the total amount came from the European Union. Shoe imports from China accounted for 55 percent and imports from Vietnam for 11 percent. In all, 80 percent of the volume of shoe imports from outside the EU came from Asia. However, EU countries accounted for 35 percent of the total value of shoe imports into Germany.

The average price per pair of imported shoes grew by 11.3 percent to €9.53 in the first half of 2011; the average price for imported leather shoes increased by 8.7 percent to €18.87. The price situation was mainly due to higher prices for Chinese shoe imports, which rose by 15.8 percent from €4.67 to €5.41 in the first half of 2011. Imports from China went up by 11 percent from 153 million pairs in the first half of 2010 to 169 million pairs in the first half of 2011.

Vietnam remained the second-biggest exporter of shoes to Germany. Imports from Vietnam rose slightly by 3.9 percent to 35 million pairs in the first half of 2011. The average import price for leather walking shoes went up by 18.2 percent to €15.87.

Shoe imports from Indonesia went up by 33.6 percent, and imports from India went up by 39.8 percent.

Imports from Italy increased by 9.9 percent to 14.5 million pairs in the first half of 2011, amounting to a share of 5 percent of all German shoe imports.

Exports from Germany went up by 14.6 percent to 103 million pairs in the first half of this year. The average export price per pair rose by 4.2 percent to €14.44. Eighty-six percent of German shoe exports went to EU countries.

As in 2010, Poland remained the largest importer of German footwear in the first half of this year with a 7.2 percent increase to 16.1 million pairs, making up 15.6 percent of total German exports. For the first time since 2004, the Netherlands became the second-largest destination, overtaking Slovakia and growing by an impressive 43.2 percent to 10.8 million pairs of shoes in the first half of 2011.

Shoe exports to Slovakia rose by 28.1 percent to 10.6 million pairs, while exports to Austria went up by 3.8 percent to 9 million pairs of shoes. France follows with an export share of 8 percent, Italy with 5.4 percent, the U.K. with 4.1 percent, Belgium and Switzerland with 4 percent and Sweden and Spain with 3 percent.

Exports to Russia dropped again by 30.8 percent, but supposedly, more exports by German shoe manufacturers to that country were made directly from the manufacturing countries. Shoe exports to Japan increased once again by 11 percent to 332,000 pairs in the first half of 2011. Exports to Switzerland were also positive in the first half of 2011, with an increase of 14.6 percent to 3.9 million pairs.