The current fashion trends in women's footwear for pretty bejewelled pumps, colourful flip flops and strappy wedges are keeping the women's footwear market buoyant as other clothing and footwear sectors struggle.

According to new data published today by TNS FashionTrak, the number of items of women's everyday footwear purchased this summer is 7 per cent higher than last year, as consumers expand their wardrobe and buy more pairs to match different outfits and occasions. 

The findings, which compare data for the 24 weeks ending 29 May 2005 versus the same period in previous year, show that expenditure on everyday footwear is up 5 per cent, outperforming total women's clothing sales where expenditure rises just 2 per cent in the season.

The everyday footwear market was worth £848 million in the 24-week period.   Growth has been consistent over the last two years with sales up 11 per cent on 2003, partly due to more high street clothing chains entering the market.

In particular, under-35 year-old shoppers are spending more (+13 per cent) on everyday footwear as girls opt for a more feminine look this summer - sandals with skirts or dresses are in whilst trainers with casual trousers are out. 

The number of skirts bought by the under-35s has risen 20 per cent in the season and the number of dresses is up 26 per cent on last year. Correspondingly the number of casual trousers bought has fallen by 13 per cent and the number of sports footwear items bought is down 4 per cent in the same period.

Amongst the under-35s, the clothing multiples are broadening their fashion footwear ranges and appealing to the younger consumer. Buying shoes at the same time as clothes makes it easier for people to create outfits and looks. 

Clothing multiples account for a third (33 per cent) of all items of everyday footwear bought by under-35s now compared with just 21 per cent two years ago. It is the footwear chains which are losing out at this younger end, with their share falling from 42 per cent two years ago to just 29 per cent this year.

Prices are holding up amongst the under-35s as they opt for the latest fashions, but average selling prices have fallen at the older end of the market.  

Early discounting by retailers, as they strive to maintain sales, is helping to boost the market - the level of discounting has risen from 31.6 per cent last year to 36.6 per cent in the 24 week ending 29 May 2005. 

Fiona Bell, business director of TNS FashionTrak, said: "Women's footwear has now become an essential ingredient in creating an overall outfit, and women own more pairs of shoes than ever before.  Women are spoilt for choice, and now buy on average 4.6 pairs per year compared with 4.3 pairs four years ago. 

"Retailers being responsive to consumer demands - providing the latest fashion items at low prices and making shopping easier - have supported this trend."