That's what has transpired from the statistics and forecasts that we have read or heard over the past few days about the economy in general, the fashion sector or its footwear segment. The U.K. was the only notable exception, due evidently to the lingering efects of the Brexit vote in June 2016.
In particular, the German shoe market, the biggest and most open one in Europe, booked a sales increase of 1.7 percent at retail in 2017, according to the European Clearing Center (Erix), culminating with a jump of 9.9 percent year-on-year during the important month of December.
Last year's increase came after two years of decline, and it was accompanied by slightly improved average selling prices and sell-out ratios for shoe retailers in Germany. The relatively good performance, which bodes well for the business climate at the upcoming international shoe shows, cannot be attributed solely to a more favorable weather situation during the past autumn season. German consumption went up by between 4.5 and 4.9 percent across all the retail sectors last year, probably due in part to persistently low interest rates and falling unemployment.
Generally positive reports have come out from the Italian and French markets, where the economy has been improving lately after many years of near-stagnation. Consumption patterns in Spain have been relatively good for some time. All over Europe, sneakers have been faring better than other categories of footwear.
In contrast with the other major European markets, last year the U.K. experienced the first drop in retail spending on non-food products in at least half a decade, in volume as well as in value. The situation persisted through the fourth quarter, including the critical Christmas shopping period.
Black Friday promotions attracted more business than the year before, but customer traffic in British non-food stores was down by 9.6 percent in December. Some observers feel that British consumers may have reacted to the inflation caused by the devaluation of the pound by taking advantage of the January sales more than in previous years, but that's not certain either.
Reports from the U.S. suggest that the year 2017 ended triumphantly, with some stores running out of merchandise and leading some economists to fear the onset of inflation. Anyway, economists tend to agree that the global economy will continue to be driven by the emerging markets like China and India.
We have already spoken about the apparent end of the recession in Brazil and Russia. We have also reported about the recent recovery in Chinese spending in their own country and abroad, which should have a particularly positive impact on the luxury goods sector, including the higher end of the footwear market.
As we have previously reported, Indian shoemakers have not been doing well in foreign markets lately, but they are benefiting from the ongoing expansion of their domestic market and the modernization of the retail sector, which could double in size by 2020, according to some experts. Following to some extent the example of China, e-commerce is projected to post a 30 percent increase this year.
India's gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to grow by 7.6 percent in 2018. This would allow India to become the world's fifth-largest economy, overtaking Britain and France, according to a British research organization, the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR). China is still projected to become the world's largest economy in a few years' time, but this should happen in 2030, taking one year longer to relegate the U.S. to the second spot than previously projected.