|Americans dress casually for practicality and comfort. T-shirts, jeans, sweaters, and sports shoes make the “middle-classness.” / Photo by ArtFamily via Shutterstock|
Americans dress casually for practicality and comfort. T-shirts, jeans, sweaters, and sports shoes make the “middle-classness.” For them, it’s not the opposite of formal but the opposite of confined. Retailers across the spectrum, whether that be online retailers, boutiques, mass merchandisers, department stores, or consignment shops, recognize American’s affinity for fashion and compete vigorously to win customers over. But in just a few short weeks, the apparel and footwear markets have been turned upside down by the spread of Covid-19.
April consumer price index
Newly released data from the US Labor Department showed that the consumer price index in the country fell by 0.8% in April, the second month in a row that consumers' prices declined since Covid-19 swept the country. The April consumer price index likewise marks the largest drop since December 2008.
Not including energy and food, the consumer price index plummeted 0.4%, the steepest loss since record-keeping of index begun in 1957. State and federal safety measures, including closures of non-essential transactions and stay-at-home orders, to contain the coronavirus disrupted the demand for various goods and services. Apparel prices dropped 4.7% and footwear, the subset of the apparel industry, dropped 3.9%. Men’s shoe fell 1.1% while women’s shoe prices 5.2%, reports shoe news and fashion trends platform Footwear News.
The data was released after the Commerce Department shared that the country’s GDP, the total value of goods produced and services provided in a specific period, dropped in the first three months of 2020 at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.8%.
|Many people in the US are still holding onto their money for fear that another recession may happen. / Photo by structuresxx via Shutterstock|
Americans holding onto their cash
While some states, including Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, and Colorado, have started reopening certain operations in phases, the economic activity remains below the level it was at before Covid-19 hit. This shows that many people in the US are still holding onto their money for fear that another recession may happen, especially since many firms have resorted to layoffs and furloughs, leaving 33 million unemployed in just seven days. The labor force gains since the Great Recession have been wiped out by coronavirus-related job losses.
Many economists foresee the US economy to contract more in Q2 2020, considering the April data. Most companies and individuals started spending in the said month even during lockdown. Experts believe a rebound will happen in the six months beginning July 1st.
Global athletic footwear market to grow by 2026
In contrast, the global athletic footwear market is expected to grow to an estimated value of US$96.10 billion by 2026, Data Bridge Market Research shared in a press release. The report analyzed the recent developments in the athletic footwear market, cost structure, supply chain, and the impact of the pandemic in the market. The report also studied the micro- and macro-economic factors that are likely to affect the growth of the athletic footwear market.
The data shows that the rise in the global athletic footwear market is attributed to technological advancements, changes in consumer lifestyle, and rising health awareness. Athletic footwear in the study refers to shoes designed for sports and other outdoor activities. They are the footwear specially developed for a sports such as baseball, basketball, and tennis, among others. They also include footwear meant for the gym, hiking, running, walking. Lightweight and tailor-made athletic footwear are also gaining attention from consumers worldwide.
Major players in the global athletic footwear market include Nike, Sketchers USA, Adidas AG, ASICS Corporation, New Balance, K-Swiss, VF Corporation, PUMA SE, Converse, Wolverine World Wide Inc., Under Armour Inc., TBL Licensing LLC, Saucony, and Woodland Worldwide among others.
Aside from the increased spending on athletic shoes, the rise of new sports leagues will help fuel the growth of the global athletic footwear industry, the press release reads.
In 2018, the highest spender on footwear in the US was the 35 to 44 age group. They spent an average of $531 on average. The average annual consumer expenditures on footwear among other age groups are as follows: under 25 years ($249), 25 to 34 years ($437), 45 to 54 years ($477), 55 to 64 years ($327), and 65 years and older ($270), according to database company Statista.
Shoes that consumers will buy post-pandemic
Kenneth Cole, founder and CEO of his namesake label fashion house, told Footwear News that in a “new world” where remote working will likely continue, people would prefer footwear that is always practical and comfortable. It is the type of footwear that will be appropriate regardless of the workspace or workplace.
Footwear design firm Aetrex Worldwide, Inc.’s VP Amy Egeljia moreover expects that shoe retailers and brands that sell casual silhouettes will have an advantage in the market, where many people will settle for remote work arrangements. She added that the gradual return to a normal way of living will have many people keeping reduced office hours or telecommuting for social distancing. That is why supportive slippers will have increased sales in the footwear market. “This moment in time is solidifying trends that have been happening for a while,” she added.
American footwear company Caleres’ SVP of design, merchandising, and product development strategy Natelle Baddeley likewise pointed out how shoppers will prefer transition pieces, such as the lightweight sneakers that slip on or stretch, slides, and loafers. Baddeley went on to explain how it is a reassuring indicator for sales post-pandemic.
Styles regarded as “safe” will get a boost
Shoe store French Sole’s owner Randy Ochart meanwhile opined that attention will be paid to styles that are considered “safe.” This was after a study showed that Covid-19 can travel on the soles of shoes. So, if shoes are made of fabrics like canvas or mesh that can be washed or a leather and rubber that can be cleaned with simple household cleaners, it will have a boost in sales.
How shoppers stay informed on styles
Mobile audit and research from Field Agent indicates that shoppers stay informed on clothing and footwear styles to know what to purchase for themselves through personal acquaintances, such as family and friends, (57%), social media (46%), web searches (46%), magazines (40%), television programs (27%), fashion apps (21%), and store personnel (17%), among others.
Customers may not automatically revert to their pre-pandemic shopping patterns so brick-and-mortar retails need to be ready for the big internet players.