The first indications from last week’s WSA show in Las Vegas are that it went very well in all the market segments, but many European suppliers are unable to pass on the recent big appreciation of the euro, in all or in part, unless their product is unique.

The market for dressy and colorful styles is apparently recovering to some extent, but casual and lifestyle shoes continued to be in stronger demand. They did much better than dress shoes in the USA last year, according to the NPD Group. American consumers spent $2.7 billion on women’s dress shoes in the 12-month period ended last Nov. 30, down 5 percent from the same period a year earlier. Sales of “dress casual” shoes for women declined by 4 percent to $7.2 billion.

Instead, women’s casual shoes were up by 11 percent to $3.0 billion, while the “active casual” category recorded a 1 percent drop to $2.2 billion. A similar pattern could be observed in the men’s sector, where sales of dress/formal shoes declined by 9 percent to $1.5 billion, while “dress casual” shoes were down by 7 percent to $2.0 billion. The casual footwear category increased by a strong 22 percent to $2.0 billion, and “active casual” was up by 4 percent to $2.7 billion. According to NPD, American consumers are looking mainly for comfort and versatility in their shoes, and also for value. On the other hand, they don't mind wearing an expensive pair of designer shoes with a cheap pair of jeans.