Italy’s shoe production grew by 0.6 percent in 2007, with a 3.8 percent increase in the average price per pair, according to the usual survey made by the Italian shoe industry association (ANCI) on the eve of the MICAM show in Milan. However, 28 percent of the shoemakers said their output had decreased, while only 19 percent reported some growth.

Exports rose by 1.7 percent in volume and by 7.9 percent in value during the first ten months of last year, reaching 216.8 million pairs worth €6,056 million, but ANCI officials caution that the estimates for the last two months of the year and the first weeks of 2008 show a new negative trend. They are warning about a possible recession, considering that the export flow began to soften last September.

Leather shoes, which continue to represent two-thirds of Italy’s total shoe exports, showed a 7.8 percent improvement in value in the first ten months of 2007. Women’s walking shoes and sandals performed particularly well, growing by 16.6 percent and 11.7 percent in value, respectively, but exports of boots and booties fell by 7.3 percent in volume.

The French market became last year the prime export outlet for Italian footwear, with exports to that country growing by 4.7 percent to €830 million during the 10-month period. The German market recovered, up by 2.7 percent, and sales to the UK went well, up by 11.2 percent. Sales to Russia, now the #4 market, jumped by 31.4 percent, and double-digit gains were also recorded in several other East European markets, in the Middle East and in parts of Asia. Instead, retailers in the USA, Canada and Japan bought less than before.

Imports grew by 8.4 percent in volume and by 0.9 percent in value, reaching a level of 384 million pairs. Imports from China and Vietnam increased by 17.5 percent and by 15 percent in volume, respectively, but average prices went down. Imports from other parts of the European Union increased by 13.1 percent, with gains of 22.4 percent from Belgium and 21.1 percent from France.