World Footwear


COVID-19: Chilean digital commerce accelerated at least 5 years in 2020

Jan 27, 2021 Chile
COVID-19: Chilean digital commerce accelerated at least 5 years in 2020
We spoke with FEDECCAL, the Chamber of Leather, Footwear and Allied Industries, to understand the main impacts of the pandemic in the country's footwear trade in 2020. We also discussed the acceleration of digital commerce in Chile last year, much driven by COVID-19
FEDECCAL starts by telling us that footwear manufacturing is up and running in the country. The local footwear industry is mainly constituted by "small, low-priced production, specialized in niche markets, which serve with quick response, trading mainly online". Retail is also functioning "subject to opening hours and restricted according to the effects of the pandemic in each city".

2020 Footwear Trade in Chile

According to FEDECCAL, the Chamber of Leather, Footwear and Allied Industries, in the first 11 months of 2020, in comparation to the same period in 2019, Chilean footwear imports have registered a drop of 30.27% in volume and 33.31% in value. The number of importing companies declined from 659 to 477 and the number of countries of origin from 77 to 64. The average pair price in dollars showed a decrease of 4.36%. This downward trend has been manifesting itself steadily since 2018.

The same source tells us that in the same period, compared to 2019, there was increase in Chilean footwear exports of 92.94% in pairs and 94.67% in dollars; however this is still a residual flow. They correspond mainly to re-exports of imported footwear. Of the total of 30 Chilean footwear exporting companies registered, only two are national manufacturers and the number of exporting companies declined from 44 to 30.

Online Business

Christmas shopping and the return to stricter containment measures to face the spread of the second wave of COVID-19 in Chile, made online commerce a preferred option for a significant portion of Chilean consumers at the end of 2020. According to FEDECALL, “Chile is one of the countries where this phenomenon occurs most strongly. The impossibility of making face-to-face purchases marked the massive entry of both consumers and merchants to the online mode, which translated into a growth of the sector that was only projected to take place in some years' time".

According to the Santiago Chamber of Commerce (CCS), online commerce sales in 2020 grew by 55% annually. During the pandemic, the growth of Chilean digital commerce accelerated from 5 to 8 years in its history, especially in areas related to goods such as food, technology, electronics, furniture and home improvement; offsetting the losses produced in sectors of less vitality such as tourism, entertainment and culture. The same source is estimating a slowdown in the growth rate of online commerce of up to 25% by 2021. In this same scenario, the CCS estimates that the rise in the sector will be based on the massive entry of new buyers which appeared during the pandemic (close to two million people), as well as the landing of new companies to the online channel, after suffering from the temporary closure of their physical points of sale.

Current COVID-19 situation in the country

Chile has a population 19 million people, and since the outbreak of COVID-19 has reported more than 706 thousand positive cases of the disease, and roughly 18 thousand deaths. The country currently has roughly 44 000 active cases.

Chile is currently under a daily nationwide curfew from 10:00pm to 5:00am and is under a State of Emergency, at least through March 2021.

Footwear Industry in Chile

According to the World Footwear Yearbook (available HERE), in 2019 Chile’s exports as well as its imports fell dramatically. National production, struggling in the face of international competition, is dominated by micro, small and medium enterprises mainly located in the metropolitan region of the capital Santiago, specialising in niche markets.