Footwear exports from Spain grew by 12.4 percent in value during the first half of this year, as compared to the same period of 2012. At €1,154 million, they reached the highest level in at least 15 years, slightly overtaking a previous peak of €1,119 million for the first half of 2001. In particular, exports of leather shoes increased by 13.5 percent, accounting for 59.7 percent of the total export turnover.

In terms of volume, Spanish exports dropped by 0.14 percent to 74.74 million pairs between January and June. While noting that the volume of leather shoe exports continued to go up by 12 percent, reaching 23.87 million pairs, Fice, the Spanish shoe industry association, said that the overall drop was due to unusually high levels of low-priced footwear that was exported to Poland and Hungary in the first months of 2012. They have since returned to more normal levels.

On the other hand, overall, shoe imports resumed their growth, after a pause. They rose by 6.7 percent in volume and by 0.7 percent in value, although imports of leather shoes went down. Imports from China went up by 7 percent in value but fell by 1 percent in volume. The opposite trend took place with regard to Vietnam – up by 13.3 percent in pairs and down by 3 percent in value. Imports from Italy, France, India, Brazil and Indonesia declined. In spite of the new trends, there was still a positive trade balance of €174 million for the sector at the end of the six-month period.

Most of the new export growth is taking place outside the European Union, where consumers are more reticent to spend more on footwear. Sales of Spanish shoes outside the EU rose by 22.4 percent in volume and by 21.2 percent in value.

The U.S. remained the major destination for Spanish footwear outside the EU, and exports to that country increased by 29 percent in volume and by 17 percent in value. In Canada, they rose by 43 percent and 32 percent, respectively.

Double-digit increases were also recorded in Japan – up by 19 percent in volume and by 21 percent in value – and in many emerging markets led by Russia and China, which ranked 10th and 14th on the list of the major destinations. Sales grew in Russia by 24 percent in volume and by 47 percent in value. In China, they rose by 58 percent in volume, but they increased in value by only 29 percent to €17.5 million. At while the average export price in China was still high at €37.39 per pair, compared with a global average of €15.44.

Other big increases were scored in Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Chile, Brazil and Colombia. In those three Latin American markets, Spain's shoe exports reached a combined volume of 8.1 million pairs.

With a total value of €852 million, the EU still represented 74 percent of Spanish shoe exports, which rose in the region by 9.5 percent in euros, but fell by 5.3 percent in volume. In France, where they had fallen in the first half of 2012, they increased by 9 percent in volume and by 7.6 percent in value in the first six months of 2013, representing 22 percent of all Spanish exports.

In Italy, which ranks as second-largest buyer of Spanish footwear after France, there was a first-time drop of 2.3 percent in volume and 1 percent in value. In Germany in contrast, after falling by 10 percent in the first half of 2012, exports of shoes from Spain went up by 15 percent in pairs and by 11 percent in value. Strong growth rates of 42 percent in pairs and 36 percent in value were recorded in neighboring Portugal. Sales in the U.K. rose by 6 percent in volume and by 14 percent in value.