Why should ugly sweaters and pajamas get all the attention? Holiday is a great opportunity to promote footwear as well. Almost one-quarter of annual, total footwear dollar sales are generated in November and December*, and for certain categories that percentage is steadily increasing. In addition, last month almost half of consumers reported that they planned to purchase footwear as a gift this holiday season**.
It makes sense that the last two months of the year are crucial to the footwear business, because in many parts of the country that’s when cold weather boot sales have historically kicked in, with higher-than-average price points driving more dollars. However, in recent years, as seasons have blurred together and winter weather has held off (with some exceptions, of course), seasonal product sales have held off as well. For example, holiday*** accounted for 43 percent of annual cold/all-weather boot dollar sales in 2015, down from 50 percent in 2013. Slippers, a key holiday category, saw a similar drop: 47 percent of sales were done during holiday in 2015 versus 53 percent in 2013.
On the other end of the spectrum, holiday is gaining significance for some non-seasonal footwear categories. Athletic categories - both performance and sport leisure - saw over 40 percent of sales generated during holiday 2015 compared to just over 30 percent in 2013.
As sneakers have become more important to the footwear market overall, holiday has become more important to sneakers. In fact, 20 percent of consumers who planned to purchase footwear as a gift this holiday season said they planned to purchase sneakers/athletic shoes, compared to 15 percent who said they planned to purchase slippers, and just 11 percent who said they planned to purchase cold weather or snow boots**. In addition, although just 5 percent of consumers mentioned their intent to purchase work/occupational/safety footwear as a gift, the holiday’s percentage of this category’s annual sales has increased during the last two years, perhaps as necessities end up on gift lists, and those replenishing for themselves take advantage of widespread promotions.
As we head into the final weeks of holiday 2016, I expect that we will see a continuation of the above shifts. As the last two months of the year become more important selling periods for non-winter footwear categories, the industry has an opportunity to further increase their holiday appeal through innovative packaging and marketing programs – tactics that have typically been reserved for winter boots and slippers. And remember: self-gifting (something I’m very familiar with) is just as important as gifting to others, so driving both can make for a very successful season.
*Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Consumer Tracking Service, Annual 2015
**Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / November 2016 Omnibus
***November and December