Portuguese footwear grows more rapidly than the competition

Portuguese footwear grows more rapidly than the competition
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In 2021, footwear production and exports increased by 8.6% and 7.4%, respectively. Portugal grew twice as much.

The footwear sector recovered worldwide in 2021, but it is still far from pre-pandemic levels. According to the World Footwear Yearbook, global footwear production exceeded the 22 billion pairs threshold (+8.6%, as compared to the prior year) in 2021, but is still below pre-pandemic levels. Last year, 13 billion pairs were exported worldwide, representing a partial recovery (+7.6%) from the drop recorded in 2020, but remaining below any other year in the last decade. In its turn, Portugal, in 2021, exported 69 million pairs of shoes, worth 1 981 million US dollars, which indicates a growth of 16% over the previous year, and more than double the world average.

At the continental level, the pandemic did not interrupt the trend toward geographic concentration of footwear manufacturing. The footwear industry continues to be strongly concentrated in Asia, where almost 9 out of every 10 pairs of shoes are manufactured, resulting in a share of 88% of the world’s total (more than half of a percentage point than in the previous year).

China is the world’s largest footwear producer (54.1%), but its share of the world production continues to slowly decrease in favor of other Asian countries, especially Vietnam. Over the last decade, China has lost more than 6 percentage points of its share.

Asia accounts for more than half of global consumption

After the significant impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on footwear consumption in 2020, some recovery did take place in 2021, but disproportionately in terms of geography. Last year, per capita footwear consumption bounced back strongly in North America (+1.0 pairs), but recovery was much weaker in Europe (+0.3 pairs). Per capita, footwear consumption varies from between 1.4 pairs in Africa to 5.3 pairs in North America.

In 2021, Asia’s consumption accounted for more than half (56.1%) of the worldwide total, consolidating its position. North America and Europe followed with 14.9% and 13.3% shares, respectively.

At the country level, the distribution of consumption continues gradually to approach that of the population: China and India lead the top footwear consumer markets and together account for almost one-third of world consumption. In the third position, the United States, a major player in the industry, already fully recovered from the effects of COVID-19, with imports and consumption already standing at pre-pandemic levels.

In this regard, the European Union as a region represents the fourth-largest consumer market for footwear, with 1 871 million pairs.

Exports recover… but little

Having fallen abruptly in 2020 (-19.2%) because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the volume of footwear exported worldwide partially recovered in 2021 (+7.4%), totalling 13 billion pairs. Last year, exports represented 58.8% of the footwear produced worldwide, the lowest figure for a decade.
The general pattern of the geographic origin of footwear exports did not change over the last decade: Asia is the origin of more than 4 out of every 5 pairs of shoes exported. Europe follows far behind, although it did manage to increase its share by 3 percentage points, mostly at the expense of Asia. China continues by a very wide margin to be the indisputable leader in footwear exports but, for more than a decade, it has been slowly losing market share to other Asian countries.

The average worldwide export price exceeds 11 dollars for the first time

The average export price per pair of footwear increased by more than 6% in 2011 to 11.07 dollars, the highest level ever. Among the world’s leading footwear producers, Portugal has the 2nd highest average export price (28.60 US dollars per pair), a sign of the prestige conquered by the sector internationall

Portugal grows more than others

In 2021, in a particularly difficult context, as the country exports more than 95% of its production, Portugal consolidated its relative position in the international competitive scene. Exports increased by 16% (more than double the world average). Portugal exported 69 million pairs of shoes over the past year, worth 1 981 million US dollars.

In some specific segments, Portugal already has a position of great significance. In 2021, it was the 5th largest exporter of waterproof footwear worldwide, with a market share of 3.8%. Last year, 7 million pairs of waterproof shoes worth 67 million US dollars were produced. The top of the list belongs to China, which exports half of the world’s waterproof footwear, with 40% of the global value. Italy is the second-largest exporter of this type of footwear, but with a share of less than 10% both in terms of value and volume.

In the most relevant segment, leather footwear, Portugal ranks 9th, accounting for 3.1% of world exports.