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Tough times ahead for German shoemakers

Mar 8, 2024 Germany
Tough times ahead for German shoemakers
German footwear manufacturers are facing a challenging 2024, says HDS/L, highlighting only nominally higher 2023 sales and losses on imports, especially in the second half of the year
Despite “considerable resilience and creativity on the part of manufacturers, a trend reversal is not in sight in view of the difficult circumstances. Sales are only nominally slightly higher, and foreign trade recorded significant losses in shoe imports, especially in the second half of 2023”, commented Manfred Junkert, CEO of the Federal Shoe and Leather Goods Industry Association (HDL/S).

In 2023, total sales of German footwear manufacturers reached 2.21 billion euros, an increase of 1.84% on a comparable basis to the previous year, but not enough to offset higher costs. Domestic sales amounted to 1.64 billion euros, up by 1.79% year-on-year, and foreign sales totalled 568 million euros, up by 1.79% year-on-year. Footwear exports were largely concentrated in the Eurozone, where they rose by 2.65% to 326 million euros.

Including re-exports, the total value of footwear exports crossed the 10-billion-euro threshold, representing an increase of 4.17% year-on-year. The main destination markets last year were Poland and France, but while the value of exports to the former increased by 15.38% year-on-year to 1.3 billion euros, exports to France fell by 5.6% year-on-year to 944 million euros. “The figures plummeted considerably in 2023, especially in the last quarter, and they lag far behind those for the previous year”, added HDL/S concerning France.

However, the German association continued, import figures show that the foreign trade balance for footwear has been hit much harder than in the previous year. The figures also indicate that trade has been slowing down since early autumn. Footwear imports amounted to 11.7 billion euros in 2023, decreasing by 15.2% as compared to the prior year. In addition, leather goods imports reached 1.07 billion euros, down by 8.55% on a comparable basis to 2022.

Outlook

HDL/S underscored that despite the difficult market environment, “the entrepreneurial optimism of the sector has remained, and it openly handles the increasingly important subject of sustainability by actively participating in the search for incentives in order to implement these requirements”. However, “if the impulses coming from an economic recovery do not act soon on the sector, then 2024 will be very difficult”, the association warned.


Image Credits: veganfoodandliving.com

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