The average price of Italian shoes continued to increase in 2018 by around 8 percent, and this allowed the Italian industry to record a 3.6 percent increase in its exports of shoes and components to €9.85 billion, despite a drop of 3.5 percent in volume, based on regional statistics compiled by Confindustria Moda, the umbrella organization of the overall fashion sector.

After a third quarter in which the country's shoe exports had risen by only 0.9 percent in value year-on-year, the growth accelerated to a rate of 7.4 percent in the fourth quarter, but it was accompanied by a drop of 6.3 percent in the number of pairs.

The European Union continued to be the biggest destination for Italian footwear, but this may not be the case much longer, judging from recent trends, combined with the possible exit of the U.K. from the EU. The share taken by rest of the world went up slightly to 49.9 percent last year from 49.4 percent in 2017.

On the other hand, Italy's exports to the U.K. increased last year by nearly 6 percent to more than €640 million, making it the fifth largest destination on a national basis. It is possible that U.K. importers raised their inventories in expectation of a hard Brexit.

Exports to Russia continued to decline, falling by about 11 percent. They rose by almost 4 percent in the Far East, as a drop of 3 percent in Japan and lower sales in Hong Kong were compensated by higher exports to China and South Korea.

With an increase of 4.0 percent, the Veneto region consolidated its position as the largest production cluster, representing 27.5 percent of Italy's total shoe exports. The regions of Tuscany and Lombardy came next, with exports rising by 4.1 percent and 12.8 percent, respectively. They were followed by Marche region, whose exports declined by 4.1 percent. The biggest drop was recorded by the region of Campania, down by 12.8 percent.

Big brands like Gucci helped the Florence area to become Italy's biggest province for international shoe production, with exports growing by 11.6 percent to €1.37 billion, with increases of 35.6 percent to Switzerland, 22 percent to China and 50 percent to South Korea. Strong increases were also registered by the Milan area (+18.5%) and the Venice area (+12.8%).

France was the biggest destination for shoemakers in the Veneto region, followed by Germany and Switzerland, and the region was the biggest exporter of shoes to the U.K. For shoemakers in Tuscany, Switzerland came ahead of the U.S. and France.

A 30.1 percent increase in exports to the U.S. consolidated that country as the main destination for companies in Lombardy, followed by France and Switzerland. Russia was the biggest market for the shoe industry in the Marche region, but with a drop of 19.3 percent in exports, it came in third place last year after Germany and France.