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China’s Footwear Market Overview


As the disposable income of China’s huge population continues to rise and consumer demand for higher quality footwear grows, sales in the sector are not only enormous, but are increasing steadily. According to Euromonitor, the total value of mainland footwear sales in 2018 was RMB411.3 billion, a 7.7% year-on-year increase. Of this, the sales of men’s shoes delivered RMB156.1 billion in revenue, accounting for 38% of the total, while sales of women’s footwear brought in a further RMB196.9 billion (48%). Sales of children’s shoes accounted for RMB58.4 billion (14%). By 2021, it is estimated that the mainland footwear market will be worth around RMB522.3 billion.


Leather shoes market:

Office workers are the primary purchasers of leather shoes, a group that is now placing greater emphasis on footwear design and style. It is also worth noting that male and female consumers have totally different criteria for buying shoes. While men tend to attach more importance to traditional designs, women are more focussed on current and up-and-coming styles. Generally speaking, the received wisdom that women own more pairs of shoes than men is borne out by factual analysis.


Sports shoes market:

Sports shoes can be classified into general sports shoes, professional training shoes and professional sports shoes, according to their specifications. Basketball shoes, football shoes, tennis shoes and hiking shoes are in relatively greater demand. As sporting events are becoming increasingly popular and people’s interest in personal fitness continues to rise, as well as greater enthusiasm for taking part in sports under the National Fitness Programme (2016-2022) and related government policies, the cost of participating in sports-related activities has become a significant part of many individuals’ monthly spending. Given the nostalgia trend in recent years, retro-style sports shoes are attracting growing interest among consumers. Traditional sports brands are scrambling to roll out classic products, for example Adidas’ Continental 80 and Reebok’s Aztec Retro Trainers.


Leisure shoes market:

As the concept of ‘leisure’ is becoming increasingly important in the lives of many Chinese consumers, the market for leisure shoes is also growing rapidly, with style and comfort seen as the two primary selling points in the sector. Typically, purchasers of leisure shoes tend to be aged between 18 and 45 and more demanding than average for brand culture and individuality, with students and office workers forming the mainstay.


Slippers market:

Following the diversification of footwear trends and the development of urban leisure, slippers have undergone their own evolution. They have shifted from being traditional worn-at-home items to becoming fashionable and a reflection of the tastes of modern urban trendsetters. As a consequence, sales of outdoor slippers, led by leisure slippers and fashion slippers, have been growing rapidly.


Children’s shoes market:

Euromonitor data shows that China’s children’s shoes market was worth RMB58.4 billion in 2018, a year-on-year increase of 9.8%. Figures released by China’s National Bureau of Statistics show that there were 250 million children aged 15 or below in 2018, and 15.23 million babies were born during the year. In view of this, the children’s shoes market has enormous growth potential.


In recent years, many leading children’s footwear brands have attached increased importance to product quality, while there has also been a greater emphasis on producing healthier footwear. Inevitably, shoe style, quality and comfort directly influence consumer buying decisions.


Various adult footwear brands have also entered the children’s market over recent years, including mainland brands like Li Ning, Anta, 361 Degrees and Xtep and overseas brands such as France’s Repetto. Apart from developing additional revenue areas, building an extended brand allegiance has also been a priority for many of these domestic brands.


Growing numbers of mainland parents like dressing their children in a style similar to their own. Demand for children’s shoes designed and manufactured based on adults’ footwear style is therefore ever rising, with parent-child outfits becoming a trend.


As the low-carbon, eco-friendly trend is drawing more and more public attention, various brands in the footwear industry have launched low-carbon society campaigns, with some introducing low-carbon products using green raw materials, energy conservation and recyclability, in a move to enhance their brand and attract consumers. In addition, enterprises are also installing more environmentally-friendly facilities in shoe production. For instance, the wooden Y-shaped automatic rotary drum is used in the tanning, re-tanning and dyeing in the leather-making process to help maintain the drum’s internal temperature and reduce energy consumption.


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Source: HKTDC

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