Footwear retailers showed a surprising resilience throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. We took a closer look at some of the best-performing shoe retailers to find out how the sector is faring and what we can expect to see in the near future.
Value-Priced Footwear Retailers
Despite the increase in online shopping over the past two years, physical shoe stores appear to be holding their own – and the strength is especially apparent for the value-priced footwear chains. Since the spring of 2021, leading footwear retailers in this category have seen a dramatic year-over-two-year (Yo2Y) increase in visits as consumers returned to in-person shopping.
The data indicates that DSW has been seeing exceptional growth, with double-digit Yo2Y visit growth every month between June and December 2021. The legacy retailers’ decision to invest in collaborations with celebrities and TikTok stars – including a business partnership with Jennifer Lopez – may be driving some of this impressive foot traffic spike.
Other shoe brands that emphasize their value-pricing in their marketing and branding have also seen visits surge. Shoe Carnival, Rack Room Shoes, and Shoe Show have seen significant Yo2Y foot traffic growth almost every month this year, finishing the year with a Yo2Y increase of 13.0%, 13.9%, and 15.9%, respectively, in December visits.
Swift Omicron Recovery
Omicron’s impact on retail visits did not spare footwear chains – but week-over-week (WoW) data shows that the value-priced shoe chains analyzed recovered exceptionally quickly from the foot traffic downturn. Visits to these brands’ stores have been consistently increasing week after week since the end of January. If current trends continue, these companies will return to their pre-Omicron wave visit growth streak soon.
Recently, another industry leader has emerged from the Midwest. Boot Barn has been around since 1978, but the company decided to expand to the northeast only in 2019, with the long term plan of doubling its store count to a total of 500 stores.
But even more impressive than the retailer’s overall growth in visits is the increase in visits per venue. The average Boot Barn store attracted many more visits in 2021 than it did in 2019, and the average number of visits per store just keeps growing. The company credits its success in part to its broad appeal to a large segment of shoppers for its success, and anticipates that the demand for Boot Barn products and in-store experience will ultimately push the retailer to exceed its initial 500 store fleet target.
Despite historic inflation levels and supply chain issues, visits to brick and mortar shoe stores are still skyrocketing. While some of the demand for footwear may have shifted online over the past two years, it seems that enough customers prefer visiting physical stores to get a first hand feel for the products to keep brick and mortar footwear retailers in business – and thriving – for years to come.
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