World Footwear

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Mixed feelings in the Italian footwear industry

Dec 31, 2018 Italy
Mixed feelings in the Italian footwear industry
In the first eight months of the current year, exports of Italian footwear increased by 3.7% in value. Nevertheless, a survey conducted for the local Association indicates a drop in production
According to a sample survey conducted by the Confindustria Moda Research Centre on behalf of Assocalzaturifici (Italian Footwear Manufacturers' Association), in the first 9 months of the year, Italian footwear  production  fell  by  2.4%  in  volume, with a 5% drop in the third quarter alone. This ads up to a weak domestic market, with the household consumption flat in the same period: -0.8% in quantity and -0.9% in value.

Nevertheless, the Italian footwear industry continues to be driven by exports. According to official figures, in the first 8 months of 2018, Italian exports  increased  by  3.7%  in  value  compared  to  the  same  period  in  2017. Between January and August 143.6 million pairs of shoes (down -3.1%) were sold abroad with a combined value just below 6.5 billion euro. A record for the period in absolute terms and a significant contribution to the balance of trade for the sector, which despite falling slightly, totalled 2.9 billion euro for the first 8 months of the year.

Annarita Pilotti, Chair of Assocalzaturifici, commented: “While, on the one hand, exports increased 2.7% in value terms to EU countries (which account for 7 out of every 10 pairs of shoes produced in Italy), non-EU sales fared even better, with increases of 4.7% in value and 3.6% in quantity, thanks especially to exports to China, that were up more than 20% in both volume and value. However, there are still issues in various destination markets”.

Although there were improvements in value terms, there was a 6%  overall reduction in volume to EU markets: Germany was stable and confirmed its status as the leading market in terms of volumes (+0.2%, with +2.4% in value); there were reductions in France, Spain and Netherlands (8.7%, 9.8% and 13.9% in quantity respectively) and there was a slight reduction in the United Kingdom (-1.1%, but with a +5.8% in value).

Outside the EU, Switzerland increased 15% in volume; there were positive signs from the Far East (+3.6% overall), thanks especially to the performance of China (which was up more than 20%) and South Korea (+11%), that offset negative trends in Hong Kong and Japan (-7% and -3.9% respectively). North America was also positive: in the US there was a 4.5% increase in volume and in Canada, thanks to the provisional entry into force of the CETA, there was a more pronounced increase of 23.4%.

On the flip side, Russia’s new slowdown is a source of concern: after the initial recovery in 2017, in the first 8 months of 2018 there was a -11.3% slump in volume, with a further deterioration compared to the first half of the year, which stood at -9.6%. “Unfortunately, the current levels for this area are almost 50% down in value compared to the same period in 2013, before the crisis – stresses Ms Pilotti – and this explains the major difficulties being faced by companies in districts that have always focused on the Russian market and, more generally, the CIS area”.

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