Sweden, which has not introduced a lockdown or imposed wearing facemasks to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, held a physical order days for the footwear industry despite the challenges caused by the virus.

Trade Partners Sweden organized ”Order days in Varberg for the shoe industry” from Feb. 21 to 25. The event was held for the 14th consecutive year in Varberg, the country’s footwear cluster located 70 kilometers south of Gothenburg.

Stringent safety precautions included sensors at the gates to keep control of visitor numbers, limited attendance per stand with one person per 10 square meters and only allowed pre-booked meetings. Opening hours were extended, but the limitations have resulted in an estimated attendance of about 300 visitors a day for some 40 exhibitors.

Brand representatives we spoke to expressed optimism after two straight years of headwinds. They explained that Sweden´s roughly 1,000 shoe retailers can be divided into three equal categories.

About one third of stores, primarily run by older owners who have decided to close within the next years, are practicing a rather conservative buying strategy, leading to limited orders. The second tier, which generally enjoys lower overhead costs, is seeking to weather out the pandemic by engaging into survival mode by reducing investments and avoiding risks. Meanwhile the last category, typically comprising younger and dynamic owners, is searching growth opportunities and gaining market shares.

They also noted that with most people working from home and enjoying long walks outdoors, shoe retailers have been focusing on comfortable home-footwear such as the ones offered by Birkenstock and Shepherd of Sweden, combined with an offering of outdoor walking and hiking brands, epitomized by the new Gore-Tex licensed brand PoleCat, which is owned by Swedish Scavanti AB.

Not surprisingly many of the exhibitors were from the outdoor industry, including DolomiteHaltiHi-TecMerrellOn Running and Viking Footwear.

Participating brands included: 2GO, Alberville, Aaltonen, ARA, Axelda Footwear, Bagheera, Bama, Billi Bi, Birkenstock, Blundstone, Bugatti, Callaghan, Caprice, Caterpillar Footwear, Clarks, CMP, Copenhagen Shoes, Crocs, Cruz, Dockers, Dolomite, Donna Girl, Duffy, Earth Spirit, Emma, Exani, Fidelio, Flyflot, Gabor, Gabor Bags, Graffiti, Graninge, Green Comfort, Gulliver, Halti, Hartjes, Hi-Tec, IGI&CO, Ilves, Jana, Joya, KangaROOS, Kanna, Kawasaki, Kennedy Sko, Klaveness, Kiwi, Legero, Levi’s Kids, Marco Bossi, Marco Tozzi, Marstrand, MJUS, Merrell, Mols, Nalho, Network, Nero Giardini, New Feet, ON Running, Outdoor, Park West, Pax, Philip Hog, Pius Gabor, Playboy, Pomar, Polecat, Powerboot, Primo Piano, Remonte, Rieker, Rock Spring, Rockport, Rohde, Rolling Soft, Royal, s. Oliver, Scholl, Senator, Shepherd of Sweden, Shoeboys, Skechers, Sköna Marie, Sockwell, Solidus, Soft Comfort, Sperry, Steptronic Footwear, Sulman, Superfit, Tamaris, Tellus, Think!, The Chesterfield Brand, TOMS, TopMan, Treksta, TRG, Ulrika Design, Waldläufer, Woly, Woodroe, Vernon sport, Viking Footwear, Wildflower, X-ti Kids och ZigZag.

 Photo: © Jon Flobrant on Unsplash