“Finally, the footwear manufacturing industry returns to positive numbers – declares Siro Badon, President of Assocalzaturifici, who during the Press Conference of presentation at Micam Milano this past 8 September presented the data analysed by the Confindustria Moda Research Centre for the first six months of 2021. It highlights “double-digit increases over last year: increases both in industrial production (+13%) and in revenue (+22%), as well as in the average amount spent by Italian families (+17.4%); with promising results also for exports (+31.5% in value). Currently, however, there is still quite a large gap with pre-Covid levels. If foreign sales, thanks to subcontracting activities for multinational luxury brands, limit the gap with 2019 to around -5% in value (but with a -11% in quantity during the first 5 months), domestic demand, industrial production, and revenue are still significantly inferior to the levels from two years ago, which were already far from satisfactory, with gaps superior to -15%: for 7 footwear manufacturers out of 10 the revenue is still clearly inferior”.
Italian and foreign vaccine campaigns have favoured the restart of economies and a return to rhythms of growth in production and worldwide trade. Thus, footwear makes a double-digit recovery in all market segments when compared to last year. Let’s take a look at the main trends in detail.
According to the analysis of the Sita Ricerca fashion consumer panel for Assocalzaurifici, domestic consumption – which was heavily penalised by the 2020 lockdown – recovers +17.4% in amount spent and +14.6% in volume, but the gap with pre-emergency levels remains high (respectively -17.8% and -14.2%). Nevertheless, compared to the negative trend of the first six month-period, the following months showed an improved situation: “We were expecting a rebound and this did occur, above all in the third quarter when the domestic market’s consumption arrived close to pre-crisis values – declares Siro Badon – Stores and chains began working again and there was a slowdown in the growth of e-commerce, which during the pandemic had experienced a boom in sales: an encouraging signal in the return to normality”.
According to ISTAT data for the first five months of the year, 81.8 million pairs were exported during the first half of the year, surpassing the 4 billion euro mark, which is a result inferior to only the record levels of 2019 (and the third best result of all time, because of inflation).
In Europe, where 7 out of 10 pairs exported are destined, all the markets show a positive trend: both Intra-EU and Extra-EU experienced a +30% recovery in quantity. At the same time, values within the Union arrived at pre-crisis levels, while remaining inferior outside of the EU.
France (+35% in value) and Switzerland (+39.3%) are the countries that experienced the greatest rebound: it’s no surprise, since they are the main destinations for luxury subcontracting activities, which is the segment that resisted the negative impact of the pandemic the best.
Outside of Europe, China achieves important results: up +74% in quantity and +106.4% in value, which mostly regards the high-end range, with better results for designer labels than companies with their own brand. This growth trend was favoured by the revenge spending of Chinese consumers and by the purchasing of goods previously purchased during trips abroad, as well as by the direct entry of goods that previously passed through Hong Kong.
In the Far East, the growth of South Korea (+10%) continues, confirming its appreciation for Made in Italy products.
The USA, instead, is characterised by a strong recovery (+49% in value and +72% in volume) also thanks to the no tax policy of Biden.
The most painful notes arrive from Japan, which notwithstanding the cancellation of import tariffs, is characterised by negative values and volumes, and from Russia, which recovers in volumes (+35%), but remains unsatisfactory in value (-3%), which had already been cut in half between 2013 and 2019.
The last trend regarding exports is the greater number of shoes with a synthetic and fabric upper imported and re-exported, a trend already underway during the pandemic that has been reinforced, while leather, the traditional material of Made in Italy footwear, recovers but is still far from 2019 levels.
The trade balance of the first 5 months is favourable at 1.91 billion euros (+51.4%), but slightly inferior to the levels of two years ago (-2.6%).
The footwear industry reflects the effects of the long period of crisis, with 61 companies going out of business compared to December 2020, while a total of 138 companies is counted, if also producers of components are considered. Despite the freeze on layoffs, the workforce loses 1,965 employees, or 3,033 fewer employees, if the entire supply chain is considered. The situation regards all of the Regions: “The segment suffering the most today – explains Siro Badon – is that of companies that sell their own brand, which our association has assisted over the last few months by organising physical fairs where it was possible, like in Turkey, Ukraine… to support their activities and create business opportunities. Today, with Micam Milano, we would like to do the same and encourage a recovery”.