NPD Reports Women Are Back To "Sole" Searching

Women’s Footwear Sales Are Back On Top

Port Washington, NY, February 5, 2013 – The NPD Group, Inc., a global information company, released its results from its Consumer Tracking Service on the U.S. footwear market for 2012. The U.S. total footwear, which includes athletic and fashion footwear markets, grew 3 percent in 2012 with total dollar sales of 54 billion. The growth of dollar sales in the women’s footwear market led the way with an increase of 4 percent. Men’s grew by 2.4 percent, and children’s total footwear by 3.8 percent.

 “For the last couple of years, men gave women a run for their money at retail with growth in sales of men’s footwear consistently outpacing growth in women’s,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst, The NPD Group, Inc. “I believe this is testament to the newness of products offered by retailers that did in fact get the consumer to respond. I think this also goes back to the ‘Frugal Fatigue’ phenomenon we have been watching. It seems to have materialized for footwear in 2012 as women finally stepped into new shoes.”

Fashion Footwear-only sales were flat in 2012 due to the lack of growth in men’s and children’s. Conversely, women had a healthy year with a 2.2 percent increase in dollar volume compared to 2011. While shoes sales grew, boot sales were soft.

Top Three Women Fashion Footwear Types


Dollar Volume
Jan. - Dec. 2011

Dollar Volume
Jan. - Dec. 2012
Dollar Percent Change
Jan. - Dec. '12 vs. Jan. - Dec. '11
Shoe $9,199,422,000 $9,845,903,000 7%
Boot $5,803,050,000 $5,618,083,000 -3.2%
Sandal $4,835,278,000 $5,169,096,000 6.9%

Source: The NPD Group, Inc. /Consumer Tracking Service

“Looking at the women’s market numbers it becomes evident to me that it was the heritage branded products that had the most impact and helped grow the business,” said Cohen. “The women’s footwear market continues to be a huge growth opportunity for brands and retailers.”

Which method of purchase did women prefer to use when shopping for fashion footwear?  While the total in store still account for a bulk of the sales website purchases continues to grow, up more than 7 percent in 2012.

“These method of purchase results demonstrate that the consumer’s pursuit of convenience has become more valuable,” observed Cohen, “Online shoppers have the ability to research products, and their features (the good, the bad, and the ugly), and they get that convenient factor of shopping at home. They also will know if the product is in stock and ready to be shipped without the need to jump through hoops.”

“Even though the economy is still sluggish, women will still opt to update their wardrobes. After all, you can go just so long with wearing the same shoes and expecting them to be comfortable,” stated Cohen. “Look for this need cycle to continue into spring and, as long as retailers showcase new merchandise worthy of the consumers investment, women will continue to update their footwear collection.”

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