Total fashion footwear posted dollar volume sales in the U.S. of $32.3 billion, which was a 3.5% decrease over the prior year.  The overall decline was less than some other fashion markets and in the last quarter of 2009 this market posted growth of 1.8%. 

“This is the third year in a row that we have seen growth in this market during the last quarter of the year.” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst, The NPD Group, Inc., “Holiday has proven to be a huge opportunity for footwear and primarily the outdoor boot business. This industry doesn’t typically think of itself as a holiday business, but the holiday results this year have again proven differently.”

Similar to results seen in the fourth quarter in apparel market, the fashion footwear market saw the return of women in the last quarter of the year.  For all of 2009, the women’s fashion footwear market finished with only 0.6% decline and when looking at a rolling 3-month trend we do see evidence of resurgence.

“While still not in the growth mode, the momentum is shifting.” noted Cohen, “In 2008, women withdrew from their footwear purchases, but in 2009, evidence of “frugal fatigue” has shown up as women began to re-enter the market.”

In addition to outdoor/all-weather boots, casual styles also contributed to the growth of the fourth quarter boot business, driven by low to mid heeled, high shaft styles that complemented key apparel trends such as leggings and skinny jeans.   The other major boost for the women’s fashion footwear market came from the walking category.  Driven by the toning/shaping segment, walking grew 33% annually and over 100% in fourth quarter.

Some of fashion footwear’s success can also be found when taking a look at where consumers made their footwear purchases. This year, again, online sales take the lead in channel growth as it posted a double digit growth rate of 18.1%.  Second to that was the sporting goods channel, due in part to the trend mentioned earlier in the outdoor boot business as well as contributions made by the increasing popularity of sport leisure styles.

“Overall fashion footwear showed growth this past year,” said Cohen, “and I do see some promising signs for the future.”

“NPD Reports on the 2009 Fashion Footwear Market,”  The NPD Group.  Web.  4 Mar. 2010.