Exporting to the US: Footwear
The Spanish footwear industry had a trading surplus of nearly € 243 million in 2015
Spanish footwear exports grew by 11’1% in 2015 which, when put into figures, meant 152 million pairs with a total value of € 2,934 million according to figures published by Federation of Spanish Footwear Industries (Fice in its Spanish initials).
The main export markets for Spanish footwear are still France, Italy, Germany, UK and Portugal. Countries with outstanding growth were: UK (26’4%); Belgium (40’3%); Norway (51’8%); Ireland (53’6%); Poland (66%); and Hungary (67’8%). On the other hand, countries to which exports fell were: Japan; Slovenia; Australia; Russia and Ukraine.
Spain’s leading market for footwear outside the European Union is still the US with an increase of 25’4%. Spain occupies the 9th place as a supplier to the US and maintains a steady growth in the market not only in volume but in value as well. This is specially noticeable in women’s footwear in which the price per pair is a very close second only to Italy. The breakdown of sales are: 47% women; 39% men and 14% children.
Spanish footwear is sold in the medium-high and high price ranges but are not classified as luxury goods. Department stores in the States use this classification and, in fact, divide sales departments into these categories. Given the difficulties in getting into department stores, the main opportunities for Spanish footwear manufacturers are to be found in boutiques and smaller specialised stores that concentrate on well designed quality products, whilst not retailing luxury brands. The other end of the market is dominated by Asian and Brazilian producers with whom it is very difficult to compete on quality/price.
Despite the inherent difficulties in the American market, it is still one that offers great opportunities for Spanish footwear. It is the market with most growth outside the European Union. This is helped by the current favourable exchange rate between the US Dollar and the Euro.
How a company approaches exports to the US will depend very much on its stage of general development. There are two main channels through which a company may succeed in this market: indirectly through an agent or distributor or through direct sales/distribution.
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