German retailers' sales of footwear are expected to be flat this year, or slightly higher than 1999, according to the German shoe retailers association, in spite of an 11 per cent decline in sales in June and July.

Sales expectations are similar in France, where footwear retail sales were practically flat throughout July, but the summer months showed better scores than in Germany, French shoe sales were down two per cent in June and stable in July, with the independents scoring a little better than the chains.

German suppliers suffered a 10 per cent decline in their domestic sales in the first six months of this year. Offsetting a 12.4 sales increase in foreign markets to 29.1 million pairs worth DM1,050m ($460m), this contributed to an eight per cent drop in their total revenues for the period to about DM3bn ($130m).

Imports grew in the first half by 3.7 per cent in volume to 162.3 million pairs, and by 9.8 per cent in value to DM3.3bn ($1.5bn). Footwear in Germany dropped by between six and seven per cent in terms of volume during the period, with the number of employees down 6.2 per cent to 16,860. A total of 15 companies have gone out of business since last year.