A major concentration process took place in the sector last year. While its production declined in volume by 2.31 percent to 105.9 million pairs, the number of companies operating in the Spanish shoe industry declined by 11.6 percent to 1,832, and the number of its employees went down by 5.4 percent to 29,056, according to final figures supplied for 2008 by Fice, the Spanish shoe industry association.

On the other hand, the industry made a real effort to be more competitive at home and abroad, as witnessed by major declines in the average price of the shoes produced in Spain and exported to other countries. The average price of the shoes made in Spain declined by 5.17 percent to €16.67 per pair, resulting in a 7.34 percent reduction in the industry’s revenues to €1.76 billion for the year.

As previously indicated, Spanish shoe exports declined by 4.87 percent in value to €1.8 billion during the 12 months of 2008, with volumes falling by 0.74 percent to 102.4 million pairs and their average price dipping by 5.57 percent to €17.59 per pair.

Comparatively, Italy’s shoe exports fell in quantity by 9.07 percent to 209.9 million pairs in the first 11 months of 2008, but their value inched up by 0.79 percent over the period as their average price went up by 10.85 percent to €31.04 a pair.

Actually, the average price of the leather shoes exported from Spain, which represented 69 percent of the total value, increased by 2.39 percent to €28.06. Nevertheless, Spain’s exports of these products were off by 11.70 percent in volume and by 9.87 percent in value for the year.

The biggest decline in average prices – 16.37 percent - was recorded in rubber and plastic shoes, but the volume of their export increased by 37.17 percent.

France remained Spain’s biggest export destination, representing 20.27 percent of the total value, but a decline of about 12 percent in average prices charged to French importers offset a similar increase in quantities, leading to an overall decline in value of 1.85 percent.

In terms of value, sales to Italy increased by 5.05 percent, but exports were down in Portugal by 8.49 percent, in Germany by 10.83 percent and in the U.K. by 16.88 percent. Sales to the U.S. declined by 22.73 percent, but Spanish producers scored well in Russia and other Eastern European countries.

The average price of imported shoes grew by 8.45 percent to €5.39 per pair, and this caused to boost the value of imports by 6.06 percent to €1,858.3 million, clearly overtaking the value of the country’s exports. The number of imported pairs declined by 2.20 percent to 345.0 million.

In terms of value, imports increased by 2.14 percent from China, by 23.40 percent from Vietnam and by 2.20 percent from Italy. The average prices of shoes imported from these countries rose by 7.65 percent, by 11.64 percent and by 8.63 percent, respectively.