The story of Europe’s footwear difficult 2020 (-27%)

The story of Europe's footwear difficult 2020 (-27%)

Europe’s footwear market is under pressure. According to estimates by World Footwear, the commerce of shoes in Europe lost 27% during 2020. The upcoming year has been positively impacted by the development of vaccines, which promises to fix the issues caused by Covid-19. On paper, the victory by Biden and the agreement between Europe and the UK also bring additional hope. But at the end of January the pandemic’s effects still linger: closed stores and low tourism are negatively affecting all operators.

Europe’s footwear market


The segment lost 101 businesses, 2,600 employees and 33% of revenue during the first 9 months of 2020. The value of exports was reduced by 17.2%. The president of Assocalzaturifici, Siro Badon, expressed great concern for the first part of 2021, as the segment has been “put to the test”. Assocalzaturifici had, in the first few days of December, asked for government intervention, so that thousands of other businesses could survive the period. The retail segment, meanwhile, has it even worse, with the crisis of establishments such as Conbipel, Pittarosso and Scarpe&Scarpe.


The forecast is for a decrease of between 20% and 25%, in terms of sales. “The outlooks are relatively grim. Companies work at reduced speed and with short-term programs”, said Manfred Junkert, CEO of HDS/L (the reference association for accessories). Stores will remain close in Germany until February 15th, thus further crippling the liquidity situations for companies that have already received fewer orders for the Fall/Winter 2021 season.


The situation here is concerning as well. Stores are open till 6:00 PM, but according to Dorval Ligonniere, of the French footwear association, “the main problem is the decreased demand. The pandemic caused significantly lower consumption in all markets. We need to find solutions to soften this decrease. Companies of this segment solely depends on future orders”. The other problem that was pointed out is the (large) amount of unsold products.


The Spanish Footwear Federation (FICE) estimated production to have gone down about 30% in 2020. About 19,300 jobs have been lost, within the footwear and leather segments. Export decreased by 16.7% in value. Spain is, as of now, one of the countries hit the most by the pandemic. Mariàn Cano continues to act as ad-interim president of the association FICE because, explains the association, “we have more important issues to deal with at the moment”. The problem is “an unprecedented lack of orders”. FICE estimates that “30% of the retail segment will be at play in the future, mainly due to a lack of effort by the government”.


Production companies were never forced to shutdown here. Even so, Apiccaps, the Portuguese footwear association estimates the commerce of footwear to have gone down by about 20% in 2020. The sentiment of manufacturers is that 2021 “will be even harder” and that the situation “will continue worsening”, before it gets better. Luis Onofre, president of Apiccaps and CEC, footwear confederation for Europe, claims to be “sure that the suffering will continue, because stores remained closed with high levels of unsold products. This will be the main issue for our fashion system. We will need to take full advantage of the online channel by offering the best collections and implementing communication as best as possible”.

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