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A Shoe In: Footwear Climbs to the Top

Ezra Carmel
July 13, 2023
A Shoe In: Footwear Climbs to the Top

Nearing the halfway mark of 2023, apparel retail continues to dress for success in an ever-changing market. And since no outfit is complete without the right pair of shoes, we dove into the visitation metrics for the footwear category and several leading brands in order to gain an in-depth understanding of what’s kicking in the shoe store retail space.

Off to the Races

Shoe store visits quickly bounced back following the first days of the pandemic when restrictions all but sidelined retail foot traffic. In an era dominated by e-commerce, it’s likely that persistent demand for brick-and-mortar shoe shopping has helped to sustain shoe store visit growth. 

Analysis of visits since January 2020 revealed that shoe store brands outperformed the overall apparel category for the majority of months. In June 2023, shoe store visits were up 36.2% from the January 2020 baseline, ahead of visit growth to the apparel category as a whole (8.2%). 

Like other retail categories, shoe stores receive a significant foot traffic boost during the holiday season. But shoe stores also experience a second visit peak in July and August when Back-to-School season is in full swing. And with multiple sale events coming up at big retailers, these categories have a running start into the second half of 2023.  

Lacing Up

And while shoe stores as a whole are finding success, three leading retailers – Boot Barn, WSS, and Nike – have experienced year-over-year (YoY) foot traffic growth that is indicative of the many ways to succeed in the space. 

WSS – with its reputation as an affordable footwear outlet – is likely benefiting from a price-conscious consumer in the present inflationary climate. Boot Barn’s expansion from a solely Western & Workwear brand into the Country Lifestyle market is winning with diverse clientele. And Nike’s growth reveals that its commitment to DTC and wholesale has helped the company stay on track to meet 2023 inventory and revenue goals. Nike may also be benefitting from sustained demand from luxury shoppers who are more insulated from the effects of inflation and a tiring of inflation-born shopping discipline among consumers in general.

Back-to-School Fuel

As retail gears up for the Back-to-School season, Nike, WSS, and Boot Barn appear to be in position to build on their recent success and drive traffic from Back to School shoppers. 

Location analytics reveals that all three brands seem particularly successful in attracting the coveted family audiences during the Back to School and holiday seasons. Between July and December 2022, WSS, Boot Barn, and Nike had a higher share of visitors from households with children than the nationwide benchmark. This suggests that these retailers will likely benefit from consumers looking to purchase shoes for kids during the 2023 Back-to-School season as well. 

Since the pandemic nearly stopped footwear dead in its tracks, shoe store visits have climbed to the top of apparel retail. WSS, Boot Barn, and Nike are finding unique ways to succeed in a challenging market, and with Back to School around the corner, all three brands appear ready to hit the ground running.

‍For updates and more data-driven foot traffic insights, visit


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