Footwear brands are feeling “quietly confident” about the year ahead, despite uncertainty around Brexit and the impact of the drop in the value of the pound.
UK brands exhibiting at footwear tradeshow Micam in Milan on 12-15 February told Drapers the year was off to a good start, and buyers and consumers appear to be feeling more positive.
“That cold snap in January helped retailers shift boots so they wanted spring product in early and we’ve already had some repeat orders,” said Peter Youell, managing director of Skechers. “If we get some warm weather in March, that will be great for everybody and get rid of some of the doom and gloom on the high street.”
He added: “There is a lot of uncertainty out there, but people still need to come to shows and retailers still need to trade. We’re quietly confident we’ll have a good year as we have the right product.”
Youell was among a number of brands to argue that if the product is right, people will shop – regardless of wider economic uncertainties.
“People are looking for a USP in their products,” agreed Ntola Obazee, country director at Joules. “We’re feeling positive about the year: the customer is responding well to the brand and we’re confident that will continue.”
Footfall in January was 1.3% down on a year ago – the steepest drop since June 2016 – data from the British Retail Consortium and Springboard shows. Some of the footwear brands Drapers spoke to at Micam had noticed the trend, but said sales were still going up.
“We’ve heard from retailers that people are seeing less footfall but are actually selling more, and the people we work with have seen strong sales so far this year,” said David Pauffley, commercial director at Oliver Sweeney.
”People are becoming more positive. We noticed at Pitti [Uomo, the menswear trade show in Florence] that people really knew that they need to offer something different and interesting to compete with the online players.”
Gerry Walker, head of sales at Anatomic & Co, said sales had dipped after the result of the European Union referendum was announced, but had recovered since: “We saw a slump in sales after Brexit: big retailers weren’t seeing any people shopping, so they didn’t re-order. We’ve been going up and up since then though. We smashed through our November and December target figures and we’re doing well so far this year too.
”We’re not as pessimistic about things as a lot of people seem to be. We know we can command higher prices if we have to, because we sell quality product.”
Jonathan Church, managing director of Joseph Cheaney & Sons, said retailers need to stay positive when faced with Brexit uncertainty: “The drop in the pound is an issue and that was always going to be a consequence of Brexit but you have to get on with it.
”We are buoyant in terms of retail but wholesale is tougher and has been for the last 12 months. We’ve always had a strong business with the Far East and we hope to see that continue this year.”
For full coverage of Micam click here.