While they experienced a certain deceleration toward the end of the year, Spain’s shoe exports performed better last year than in 2006, when they had grown by only 4.31 percent in value and dropped by 1.85 percent in volume. For the first 11 months of 2007, the Spanish shoe industry association, FICE, estimates that Spanish companies’ sales abroad grew by 11.0 percent in value, reaching a level of €1.9 billion, and that they went up by 7.0 percent in volume to 101.0 million pairs.

On the other hand, the actual production volume fell by 7.86 percent to 109 million pairs as imports rose by 15.0 percent to 340 million pairs. As average prices increased for the shoe made in Spain and declined for those imported from abroad, the value of Spain’s output probably declined by only 2.86 percent to around €2 billion, while imports increased by 5.0 percent to €1,717 million.

The number of companies operating in the footwear sector declined by 5.69 percent to 2,153 last year, and their total staff went down by 4.29 percent to 32,080 persons. Some 500 companies have shut down since 2004 in the sector, and 10,000 people have lost their jobs, but those that have remained are relatively strong and competitive.

In the key shoe manufacturing district of Elche, the number of companies registered with the local shoe industry association, AICE, was only 211 at the end of last year, compared with 323 in 2000, as many small companies shut down and others decided to outsource to lower-cost countries such as China. On the other hand, for the first time since 2001, there were more new companies registering with the association than leaving it – 30 against 23.

On the export front, France remained the prime foreign destination of the Spanish shoe industry in the first 11 months of 2007, showing a 4.5 percent sales increase year on year. Germany was No. 3 on the export list after Portugal, and according to Spanish trade figures, footwear sales to that country increased by 14 percent in terms of value. Another important market, Italy, showed sales increases of 20 percent in value and 23 percent in volume.

The Iberian market is becoming more and more integrated. Spain’s shoe sales to Portugal rose by 14 percent in value and by 28 percent in volume. Conversely, imports from Portugal into Spain soared by 51 percent in terms of volume.

FICE mentioned significant progress in Spain’s exports to other Western European markets such as Greece, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark and Ireland, but didn’t discuss others. Exports to some Eastern European destinations fared better. While the average selling price declined, they grew in volume by 50 percent in Poland, by 38 percent in Hungary and by 94 percent in the Czech Republic. Sales to Russia grew by 45 percent in volume and by 46 percent in value.

Sales to Turkey increased by 28 percent in volume and value, with the average price set at one of the highest levels – €31.59 per pair. Other good performances mentioned by FICE in terms of value were increases of 10 percent in sales to Mexico and 19 percent in sales to the Unite Arab Emirates.

On the other hand, the volume of exports to the USA went down in 2007, as a favorable trend that began in 2006 did not continue in the second half of 2007, evidently due to the mortgage crisis and to the economic slowdown in the country, compounded by the declining value of the dollar. However, the average selling price of shoes exported to the USA increased and reached a record of €33.57 per pair.

Spanish producers generated sales of €5.5 million on the Chinese market, where their footwear sales grew in volume by 91 percent to a still low level of 205,517 pairs. With this, China became the third-largest client of Spanish footwear in Asia, behind Japan and Hong Kong.

On the other hand, Spain imported 236 million pairs worth €569 million from China, representing 35 percent of its total imports in value terms, but imports of leather shoes from that country were off by 25.3 percent to 15.8 million pairs. Total import volumes went up by 51 percent from Vietnam, by 76 percent from Hong Kong, by 21 percent from France and by 20 percent from Morocco.