Imports of footwear into the member countries of the European Union registered an overall 7 percent increase in both quantity and value during the first quarter of 2014, compared with a 3 percent increase in 2013. EU exports also performed well in the quarter, with quantities up by 15 percent and an increase in value of 8 percent.

The EU countries imported 1,155.7 million pairs of footwear valued at €10,513.3 million, and the positive performance was mainly driven by intra-EU trade. The main importers of footwear in the Union during the first quarter were Germany with €2,162.7 million, France with €1,544.9 million, Italy with €1,160.4 million, and the U.K. with €1,086.9 million. France's imports grew by 4 percent, a more modest performance if compared with increases of 9 percent in Germany and 14 percent in the U.K. Italy's imports were flat in the period.

In Germany, shoe imports went up by 8 percent from outside the EU and by 11 percent from other EU countries. The U.K. registered a 24 percent increase in its intra-EU imports and a 6 percent growth in non-EU imports. Imports into France's were up by 4 percent from non-EU markets and by 5 percent from other EU markets.

On the exports side, EU member countries delivered in the first quarter 532.5 million pairs valued at €9,172.0 million outside their national borders, which compared to 463.6 million pairs worth €8,516.1 million in 2013. These figures reflect increases of 15 percent in quantities and 8 percent in value.

Spain's exports grew by 5 percent in the quarter, while Italy's exports increased by 2 percent and Portugal's by 10 percent. Italy had the same growth for internal and external EU exports, with different performances for the main destinations outside the EU. Italy's footwear exports to the U.S grew by 17 percent while those to Russia declined by 17 percent. At the same time, Italian exports to China, which more than tripled between 2010 and 2012, registered a modest 3 percent increase during the first quarter.

France's exports grew by 2 percent within the EU and by 1 percent outside the EU. The Netherlands raised its exports to other EU countries by 12 percent, but its exports to countries outside the EU declined by 10 percent. Portugal is the only country among the main players with a performance characterized by a higher growth for non-EU exports, up by 32 percent, versus a EU increase of 7 percent.