World footwear production and exports returned to growth last year, fuelled by higher consumption in the main Asian manufacturing countries, growth in export flows to developed markets and an increase in average export prices.
The data from the World Footwear Yearbook 2018, published by the Portuguese Footwear Association, shows global footwear production reached 23.5bn pairs in 2017, 2% more than in the previous year.
Although this is still far from the fast growth pace registered between 2010 and 2014 (+15.4%), it represents a return to a positive dynamic. In terms of its geographic distribution, production continues to be heavily concentrated in Asia where 87% of all footwear is manufactured.
Moving in the same direction, and after falling over a two-year period, worldwide footwear exports grew by 0.7% in terms of quantity and by 3.7% in terms of value.
Growth was widespread geographically. China is still responsible for two out of every three exported pairs of footwear and has also recovered from a negative trend. After a continued loss during the last five years, which cut its market share by six points, in 2017 China recovered 0.2 percentage points.
On the consumption side, India overtook the US in 2017 as the second largest consumer of footwear, reflecting strong demographic and economic trends. China remains in pole position at the head of the ten largest footwear consumers.
From a global perspective, Asia continues to be the main region for footwear consumption (54%), followed by Europe (16%) and North America (15%).
The European continent, home of some of the most relevant players in this industry, has been gaining ground in worldwide exports. In 2017 the region reached its highest market share in a decade, accounting for 13.8% in terms of quantity. In terms of value, Europe accounts for 36.7% of the global market, its highest level over the last six years.
Europe is also responsible for half of world imports, and with 36.2% of the total quantity and 49.3% of the value, is the most important destination for footwear imports.
In 2017, the world average export price for footwear increased by 3% reaching a record level of US$9.18 a pair.
Over the last decade, the average export price has increased by 40%, with the fastest increase among all continents taking place in Asia (+60% in the same period). The average export price in China grew by 62% in the last decade, driving much of the global growth.