Italian footwear’s recovery is pushed backThe footwear industry once again debates among lights and shadows.
After having ended 2017 with moderately positive indicators – with production volumes superior to 190 million pairs, export values at 9.2 billion euros (as the best performance of the last 15 years) and a foreign trade balance of 4.54 billion euros, up +8.5% from 2016 – with high hopes created for an eventual recovery, the sector, which reunited in Milan on 19 June at the National Footwear Assembly, is forced to face the disappointing abrupt halt of 2018’s first quarter: “2018 began with a slowdown in foreign sales and production rhythms. – announced President Annarita Pilotti – Exports recorded a weak rise of +0.1% in value, but fell by more than -3% in volume, when compared to the same period last year. Additionally, the difficulties being experienced in some international end markets are cause for worry. In particular, in the CIS area, the recovery that began in 2017 has come to an abrupt halt, with a -7% drop in value and -2% fall in quantity recorded during the first three months of 2018. Russia, instead, has experienced an overall -10% decrease. There is also a slowdown in the Far East (-6.3% in value), where the further growth of China and South Korea has not been enough to compensate for losses in Japan and Hong Kong”.
The EU market, where 7 out of 10 pairs are exported, presents a disappointing trend (+0.3% in value and -6% in quantity), with a drop of more than 10 percent in export volumes to key markets like France, Spain, Belgium, and Netherlands. Non-EU markets, with the exception of the CIS area that completely reverses its trend, expand upon the positive dynamics of 2017: Switzerland, with its +10% increase in volumes and values, reinforces its role as a logistics hub; while in the USA, there is an increasingly large gap between positive volumes and negative values (+10% and -10.2%); and Canada, also thanks to CETA, registers +23% in volumes.
Imports once again take off (+5), with imports from China registering +10% in volumes, which in any case does not affect the Italian trade balance that remains very favourable at 1.069 billion euros, notwithstanding its -6% downtrend from the same period in 2017.
What is the best strategy for overcoming the current economic situation? The Association’s member companies are all in agreement: focusing on the promising market of the USA and on a mix of research on new markets, cost optimisation, and product innovation.