World Footwear

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Recovery of the Italian footwear industry is at stake

Jul 7, 2022 Italy
Recovery of the Italian footwear industry is at stake
Footwear exports and household spending increased in the first quarter of 2022, but a slowdown is already expected from the start of the second quarter. War in Ukraine, rising energy costs and raw materials prices are clouding the horizon
The snapshot provided by the Confindustria Moda Research Centre for Assocalzaturifici indicates that, in the first three months of the year, purchases by Italian households grew by 15.4% in volume and by 20.6% in value, as compared to the same period of 2021. There is still a gap, though, of around 10%, on a comparable basis to the pre-pandemic levels. The report also highlighted that shopping by tourists visiting Italy remains far from 2019 levels, despite a partial recovery of arrivals in 2021 and an encouraging start to 2022 with the improvement of the pandemic situation.

As for exports. In the first three months of 2022, exports increased by 21.4% in value and by 11.7% in volume, as compared to the same period of last year. The country shipped 58.7 million pairs of shoes (down by 4.9%, as compared to the first quarter of 2019), worth 3 billion euros, with average prices up by 8.7%.

Italian footwear is in an ascendant trajectory in EU markets, having risen by 9% in volume and by 18% in value, on a comparable basis to the first three months of 2021. The main destination markets, in value, were the Netherlands (up by 37%), France (up by 22%), Spain (20%), and Germany (16%).

But the performance in non-EU27 countries in the first quarter of 2022 was even better, up by 18% in volume and by 25% in value, as compared to the same period of the prior year. Exports to the US exceeded pre-COVID 2019 levels, with an increase of 70% in value and there was a return to growth in South Korea (by 16% in both value and volume), after the slowdown of 2021 that interrupted a long period of growth in the previous decade. Good results were also recorded in China, with a growth of 28% in value.

War in Ukraine

Nevertheless, Russia's invasion of Ukraine on the 24th of February is severely impacting the footwear industry. "The progressive recovery that is bringing companies in the industry back to pre-pandemic levels (almost two out of three companies closed the year 2021 with sales figures remaining below those of 2019) has, since the end of February, faced the outbreak of conflict between Russia and Ukraine, resulting in the collapse of exports to these countries from March onwards (…) The effects have been felt particularly severely in footwear districts that traditionally export to these areas (such as Marche and Romagna), which saw the cancellation of shipments due for delivery and orders in their portfolio", commented Assocalzaturifici Chair’s Siro Badon.

Exports to Russia shrank by 51% in March, while exports to Ukraine were down by 95%. Cumulative figures indicate a drop of around 20%, in terms of both value and number of pairs, for Russia and a fall of 48% in value and 56.5% in volume for Ukraine, as compared to January-March 2021.

"In addition to the effects of the war, we have seen a steep rise in energy costs and no significant reduction in raw materials prices, which have been high for many months, in addition to fears of new variants of the virus”, added Siro Badon, who already appealed to the Italian Government for aid.


Image Credits: Jordan Pulmano on Unsplash


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