Performance shoes will outpace the overall market, and select fashion silhouettes will return to pre-pandemic levels

Port Washington, N.Y., November 2, 2021
– Powered largely by pent-up demand and rising average selling prices, U.S. footwear revenues grew by 28%, from January through September compared to last year, and increased by 8% versus 2019. By 2023 revenues are forecasted to be 16% ahead of pre-pandemic 2019 levels, as average prices continue to rise, although the magnitude of the increase will vary by footwear category, according to The NPD Group.

The latest “Future of Footwear” report, based on Retail Tracking Service data from NPD, reveals that revenue growth within the performance- and outdoor-footwear categories will outperform the growth in the overall footwear market in 2023. Fashion footwear will lag the market, although some key silhouettes will make a full recovery and return to pre-pandemic revenue levels by 2023.

“Bright spots will be silhouettes that support the more casual and comfortable lifestyle consumers have become accustomed to,” said Beth Goldstein, fashion footwear and accessories analyst at NPD. “However, that doesn’t mean that pumps, oxfords, and loafers won’t return to some level of growth over the next few years. With the return to offices and events happening more gradually than initially anticipated, the retail rebound for these silhouettes will be more elongated.”

“On the sports side, the biggest news is the growth of running, walking, and hiking shoes,” said Matt Powell, sports industry advisor at NPD. After strong growth in 2021, spurred by running and walking shoes, performance footwear is forecasted to stay steady, at rates slightly higher than before the pandemic, and unit sales will increase. With the pandemic instilling in consumers a new appreciation for being outside, revenue and unit sales for hiking shoes are projected to continue their healthy annual rise through 2023.

“After years of continuous declines, the next two years are looking up for performance footwear,” said Powell. “Running will be the key area here, as I expect we’ll see performance-running shoes return as streetwear. It has been nine years since these shoes were viewed as a fashion trend, and today it will require brands and retailers to rethink the cadence and content of their footwear releases.”

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