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Footwear in Europe: Stepping Up in the Face of Uncertainty

May 2013

While the European footwear market has shown greater economic resilience compared to clothing, there have nonetheless been winners and losers. This briefing explores the evolution of the market in a time of continued economic uncertainty, highlighting key geographic, category and channel opportunities. Emphasis is placed on the most striking market development: the growth of the value segment, driven by post-recession polarisation and the notion of “disposable fashion” hitting footwear.

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Footwear shows greater resilience than clothing

Footwear has been less prone to macroeconomic shocks compared to clothing due to its position as an "affordable luxury" and perception as a better investment.

East-West divergence

Recession and austerity measures are dampening footwear spending in Western Europe, but sales in Eastern Europe continue to grow.

Volumes on the rise

Whilst the notion of "disposable fashion" is hitting its peak in clothing, the trend is gaining importance in footwear.

Price polarisation

The middle ground is being squeezed in Europe, as consumers trade down to fast fashion/private label but also trade up to luxury.

Fast fashion exerts influence

Fast fashion chains, in particular, are turning their attention to footwear, providing more weight at the economy end of the market.

Private label gains momentum

Grocery retailers' private label brands are also benefiting at the economy end, but face the challenge of building fashion appeal to compete with fast fashion.

Traditional channels struggle

Department stores and apparel specialists are focusing on creating in-store environments and services to regain footfall.

Sports footwear outperforms

Sports footwear, particularly sports-inspired, is showing economic resilience, drawing non-traditional sportswear players into the competitive fray.


Key findings

Europe Overview

"Affordable escapism" keeps footwear sales buoyant
Contrasting performance in Eastern and Western Europe
Income variations affect footwear unit prices
Unit prices on decline, but volumes rise
Volume slowdown not expected to hit footwear

Category Analysis

Women's footwear still dominates sales
Fashion trends drive sales in women's footwear
Increased fashion consciousness boosts men's footwear
Income and demographics impact children's footwear
Sports footwear outperforms the market
Sports-inspired holds the greatest potential
Performance footwear driven by popularity of running
Outdoor footwear led by Germany

Competitive Environment

Sports and value players lead the rankings
Post-recession p olarisation
Designer footwear shows resilience
Luxury brands broaden their scope
Value fashion booms
Value fashion: Challenges to overcome looking forward

Channel Analysis

Traditional store-based formats lose share
Online attitudes opens new avenues for growth
Grocery private label brands gains momentum…
...and flex stronger fashion credentials
Compelling in-store environments lure consumers back to stores


European divergence set to continue
A summary of the main findings

Report Definitions

Definitions: Footwear
Definitions: Sports footwear


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