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Challenges Loom for German Shoemakers Amidst Economic Pressures

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Germany, March, 2024

Manfred Junkert, CEO of the Federal Shoe and Leather Goods Industry Association (HDL/S), has expressed concerns over the challenging outlook for German shoemakers amidst difficult market conditions. Despite displaying considerable resilience and creativity, manufacturers are facing tough circumstances with only nominal sales growth and significant losses in shoe imports.

“In view of the difficult circumstances, a trend reversal is not in sight,” commented Junkert. “Sales are only nominally slightly higher, and foreign trade recorded significant losses in shoe imports, especially in the second half of 2023.”

In 2023, total sales of German footwear manufacturers reached €2.21 billion, marking a modest increase of 1.84% compared to the previous year. However, this growth was insufficient to offset higher costs. Domestic sales amounted to €1.64 billion, up by 1.79% year-on-year, while foreign sales totaled €568 million, also up by 1.79% year-on-year. Footwear exports were primarily concentrated in the Eurozone, rising by 2.65% to €326 million.

Despite the overall increase in footwear exports, the value of exports to France witnessed a notable decline, falling by 5.6% year-on-year to €944 million. Junkert highlighted that the figures “plummeted considerably” in France, especially in the last quarter of 2023.

Moreover, footwear imports experienced a significant decline, totaling €11.7 billion in 2023, down by 15.2% compared to the previous year. Leather goods imports also saw a decline, reaching €1.07 billion, down by 8.55% year-on-year.

Looking ahead, HDL/S emphasized the sector’s ongoing commitment to sustainability and highlighted the need for economic recovery to stimulate growth. However, the association warned that if economic impulses do not materialize soon, 2024 could present significant challenges for German shoemakers.

Despite the prevailing uncertainties, the sector remains optimistic and actively engages in sustainability initiatives while navigating the complex economic landscape.