The usual appointment with the World Footwear Yearbook for the year 2022 is back and was released by the Portuguese Footwear Association that captures a still image of the global market of the footwear sector in the recently ended year. The data show that, although the pandemic still limited manufacturing in some countries, in 2021 global footwear production increased by 8.6%, exceeding 22 billion pairs. Nonetheless, production is still 2 billion pairs below the pre-pandemic level. Asia continues to account for over 88% of world production, marking an increase of more than half of a percentage point than in the previous year. In Europe, instead, the share has fallen below 3%, so has Africa, while South America has slightly increased its share and is proposed as the main production alternative outside Asia.

On the footwear consumption front, in 2001 per capita consumption reached 5 pairs in the US, a figure only slightly below its pre-pandemic level, while in Europe the recovery was much weaker, with consumption per capita up by only 0.3 pairs and nowhere near the 4.4 pairs sold in 2019. Also in Asia per capita consumption increased by 0.3 pairs, but this was enough to bring it back to pre-pandemic level. Given the huge population of the continent, the Asian share of footwear consumption in the world has reached a new high of 56.1%. North America has overtaken Europe in 2nd place, while consumption in Africa has yet to recover from the effects of the pandemic.

Finally, a look at exports shows that in 2021 58.8% of world footwear production was exported, which is the lowest percentage in the last decade. The geographical origin of footwear exports, however, has not changed and Asia seems to be the country from which originate more than 4 out of 5 pairs of shoes. Nonetheless, Europe manage to increase its share by 3 percentage points mostly at the expense of Asia.

In the period 2012-2021 the distribution of footwear exports by continent of origin (quantity) shows China at the top of the world ranking of footwear exporting countries with 60.4%, a record which, however, appears to have been affected in the recent period by Vietnam, which today represents about 10% of world exports, placing itself in second position on the world table. Turkey has also made significant progress, rising from 2017 and from 8th to 4th place after Indonesia. In Europe, Germany remains the largest footwear exporter ahead of Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands.