Koio

Shoe sales have faltered in light of nationwide coronavirus lockdowns. According to new research from the NPD Group, fashion footwear in the U.S. saw marked declines in March compared with the same period last year.

Online fashion footwear purchased dropped 15 percent while in-store saw a 50 percent fall-off. Much of the U.S. was still operating business-as-usual for at least half of March, so April sales could see even bigger declines.

“Many external reports are touting a ‘strong’ e-commerce business once major retailers closed their doors, but the caveat is that the definition of ‘strong sales’ has taken on a very different meaning in the current environment. Market share has really become the primary measure of success,” Beth Goldstein, fashion footwear and accessories analyst for NPD, said of the new report.

NPD reports that online penetration for footwear sales reached a record-breaking 39 percent in March, spiking from 28 percent in the first two months of the year. Direct-to-consumer footwear channels took the largest market share, followed by specialty athletic footwear e-commerce. Department stores saw an uptick in online shoe sales, despite historical declines in the category pre-COVID-19.

“We can expect that online penetration will become even higher, on account of a few factors. In addition to April being a full month of quarantine and store closures, discounting and promotional activity accelerated quickly once retailers shut their doors, helping to drive sales. More recently, we’ve also begun to see sales pick up for warmer weather styles. Concerns over returning to stores also present potential for longer-term online shopping,” added Goldstein.

NPD said that footwear and handbags are seeing overall declines similar to apparel.