Portugal's shoe exports grew by 2.0 percent to 54 million pairs in the first nine months of 2012, but after a good second quarter, where they increased by 6.2 percent as compared to the same period of 2011, they fell by 0.6 percent in the third quarter.

In terms of value, they reached a level of €1,224 million for the period. Without providing many other details, Apiccaps said in its newsletter that exports have been growing in all the markets, but especially outside Europe. Over the nine-month period, they rose by 31 percent to €19 million in Russia, by 51 percent to €16 million in the U.S., by 1 percent to €9.5 million in Canada, by 23 percent to €10 million in Japan and by 19 percent to €9.9 million in Angola. In Europe, Portuguese shoe exports have basically stabilized.

On the other hand, a quarterly survey conducted by Apiccaps shows that the country's shoemakers are expecting an average increase of 5.9 percent in their sales abroad during the fourth quarter, followed by a decline of 9.9 percent in the first quarter of 2013. A possible explanation, in our opinion, is that the weather was generally colder around the world in the past autumn than in 2011, benefiting shoe consumption.

The third quarter of 2012 proved to be a little better than previously expected, but all in all, a majority of Portuguese shoemakers have expressed negative feelings about the state of their business for the fourth quarter in a row. While sales and orders continued to be in negative territory, the rates of decline have been going down after reaching bottom in the first quarter of last year.

Year-on-year, production levels have been declining in the Portuguese shoe industry since the fourth quarter of 2011. The rate of decline reached 5.6 percent in the third quarter of 2012, but Apiccaps' survey indicates a certain optimism about a possible recovery, which has translated into a stabilization of employment levels.

Unlike the Italian shoe industry, the Portuguese one is a lot less dependent on its relatively small domestic market. The economic crisis in the country led to a big 18 percent drop in its shoe imports during the third quarter.

More than ever, Portuguese shoe manufacturers see their fortune in foreign markets. However, while preparing a new export promotion program, Apiccaps is recommending to watch out their competitors in Spain and other countries on the pricing front. The average price of Portuguese shoes has grown by 20 percent in foreign markets as compared to 2009.