An analysis of sales data, consumer survey data, and other indicators paints a sobering picture of the state of the shoe industry.
“The shoe industry is a dying industry,” said John Smedley, chief economist at NPD Group.
“We are not seeing any real signs of growth.”
The sneaker industry was hit hard by the recession and continues to see some of the steepest declines in foot sales.
According to a survey conducted in April by the shoe store chain Superstore, the number of shoes sold dropped 2.5% year-over-year.
That’s the worst performance in the industry since the recession, and it’s a sharp decline from a year ago, when sales fell 7.2%.
The decline is especially stark in retail, which is in a recessionary period.
In the first nine months of the year, retail sales dropped 1.5%, according to data compiled by the retail trade group J.C. Penney.
The industry is struggling to attract new buyers and has been struggling to find a replacement for the dwindling number of loyal consumers who love to wear a pair of shoes.
And while sales of athletic shoes have continued to rise, the average price of a pair dropped 1% in April to $140.
According a report by the footwear company ShoeSource, the sneaker market is the fastest-growing segment of the retail economy, but the industry still has plenty of room for growth.
“While we’re still seeing the industry’s bottom end shrink, it’s still a really healthy market for footwear retailers,” said Matt Graziano, CEO of footwear retailer Foot Locker.
“In fact, it might be the fastest growing segment in the retail business, with sales rising at double digits year over year.”
While the recession may have impacted the shoe business, it doesn’t seem to be affecting the demand for sneakers.
According the NPD, sales of sneakers and other footwear products rose 11.2% in the first quarter of 2015, according to research firm IDC.
But that was up from 6.5%.
That’s a little better than the industry average of 6.7%.
Meanwhile, sales for sneakers, running shoes and other athletic shoes declined 8.5%; and sneakers sales were down 7.4%.
The downturn is a sign of things to come, said Paul Lasseter, senior director of global footwear for Nike.
“It’s still going to take some time to recover from the recession,” he said.
“But it’s definitely an opportunity to be very aggressive with growth, particularly for footwear.”