The Italian footwear market has undergone a stagnation in sales over the past decade and the only segments to have gained market share have been shoes priced above 140 a pair, while purchases of more economical shoes have declined, according to a survey carried out by Diomedea for the youth chapter of the Italian footwear association, Anci. On the other hand, the proportion of shoes sold at full price in Italian stores has declined over the past decade, squeezing the retailers' margins and affecting their suppliers as well.

A total of 190.3 million pairs of shoes were sold in Italy in 2010, representing revenues of 3.5 billion at factory prices. This compares with 189.8 million pairs in 2001 for a turnover of 3.2 billion. During the period, the share of imported shoes surged to 81.5 percent from 63.3 percent.

Shoes priced up to €56 per pair represented 64.9 percent of the market in volume and 27.6 percent of the market in value in 2010, against 68.6 percent and 34.9 percent in 2001, respectively. The €56-105 segment totaled 19.5 percent of the market in volume compared with 21.6 percent, and 27.0 percent in value versus 35.5 percent.

At €105-140 per pair, the medium range rose in volume to 7.2 percent of the market from 6.2 percent but declined in value to 15.6 percent from 16.1 percent. Growth was recorded instead in the the two higher priced segments: Shoes sold between €140 and €175 rose to 3.7 percent of the market in volume in 2010 from 2.2 percent in 2001 and to 10.4 percent in value from 7.2 percent. Styles priced beyond €175 reached a 4.6 percent market share in volume against 1.4 percent, and 19.5 percent in value against 6.3 percent.

The survey noted that Italian clients are increasingly attracted by discounts as families are suffering a gradual impoverishment compared with those in other European countries. It estimates that 35.2 percent of shoes in each collection are bought in the last two months of the selling season as clients wait for the sales period. This is most notable for the winter collection. The phenomenon is less marked for summer shoes because many stores close in August, the last month of the summer season. Nevertheless, the difference in the average selling price between the first four months of the season and the sales period is relatively low, because customers tend to buy more expensive shoes during the sales, and shopkeepers are offering rebates outside the sales period. In 2010, the price difference registered between the two periods was 10 percent for the winter collection and 21 percent for the summer collection.