Consumer Blog: Tough life for footwear

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“Brantano enters administration with 1,000 jobs at risk”

“Clarks shoes feels the pinch as UK high street an increasingly uncomfortable fit for some retailers”

“Jones Bootmaker saved from the brink by Endless rescue deal”

These are just a few of the headlines that have graced our screens in the last few weeks. The footwear retailing market has been hit hard with the loss of Brantano, which entered administration last month, and the near loss of 160-year-old chain Jones Bootmaker, which was saved by private equity firm Endless. The company, like numerous other retailers, has struggled in recent years given tough trading conditions and continually changing shopping habits.

Jones isn’t the only shoe retailer to be experiencing problems; Electra has significantly written down its investment in Hotter Shoes as a result of earnings decline; Clarks has experienced a 65% fall in profits; and US discount shoe retailer Payless is set to file for bankruptcy protection which could lead to 500 store closures.

With shoes regularly sold in multiple clothing retailers, and a somewhat bizarre preference of consumers choosing to wear athletic shoes (which are now typically worn for aesthetic purposes rather than for practicality), more pressure is being placed on the mid-market traditional operators, who are struggling to find where they fit in an evolving market; one that is definitely now dictated by the consumer. Brands are making more strategic acquisitions to keep up with consumer trends, such as Germany-based DEICHMANN Group’s acquisition of platform trainers brand Buffalo last year, which allows the potential to open up new growth areas

As consumers, we can decide where we want to shop, at what time and at a budget to suit our needs, all from the comfort of our own home, and we are able to demand more choice – choice which isn’t always available in store. It’s clear that retailers need to decide how they can add value to this type of shopping experience or otherwise be left out in the cold.