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Recent Report Reveals a Footwear Sales Surge


According to The British Fashion Council and leading ‘buy now pay later’ service, Clearpay‘s jointly commissioned State of Retail Report – footwear has been flying off the shelves. 

The report, compiled by Oxford Economics, reveals footwear sales have been running out the door, with data showing an unexpected purchase surge during the past year.

The U.K spent £800m more on footwear during April – June 2021 than they did in the same period for 2020, an impressive 40% increase, reflective of the nation’s excitement at retiring ‘slob chic’ for Zooms – business-ready from the waist-up, and anything goes from the waist down – and likely buoyed by this year’s ‘summer of sport’.

Brits’ increased love for footwear was also evident in Clearpay’s latest customer shopping data, with footwear sales increasing by a staggering 70% from June 2020 to 2021, indicating that ‘sitting around in socks’ is no longer sartorially acceptable.

The nation’s collective spirit around the Euros has helped inspire us to ‘bring footwear home’ and on our feet, and now with the Olympics, performance footwear has never been so visible. Data shows we’re still favouring active footwear; according to Clearpay data, the iconic Nike Air Force 1, Nike Air Max 270 and Nike Air Max 90 are the most popular footwear choice for two years in a row! 

Clearpay’s fashion & beauty psychologist, Shakaila Forbes-Bell on why footwear is so important to us and what psychological benefits we obtain by opting for footwear that suit your style:

“The boost in sales of performance trainers and footwear, in general, is particularly unexpected given that the pandemic has resulted in global decreases in physical activity and increases in sedentary behaviour.

“One explanation might be evaluative conditioning, which means that a product simply being associated with a positive or negative figure makes it subsequently go up or down in our estimations. So, while all of those triumphant photos of Grealish, Sterling and Southgate didn’t encourage us to kick a ball ourselves, they made performance footwear look more appealing by association, encouraging us to buy.

“In terms of the boost in footwear more generally and with lockdowns lifting and people looking towards life post-pandemic, it’s understandable that they’ll be seeking initially to embrace an item that holds so much symbolic and emotional value. Shoes have the unique ability to transport us emotionally and physically to positive places, many of which have been inaccessible over the last 18 months due to the pandemic.”

Clearpay’s fashion futurist Geraldine Wharry on what the future of footwear and what trends we can expect to see in the rest of 2021 and beyond:

“I think this trend will continue, with a rise in sustainable performance trainers as well, it’s been a very strong category for years. One of the only items consumers cannot afford to ‘not replace’ and need in good shape, for running especially, which saw a massive increase during lockdowns. It’s key to say that in the past decade having forecasted through a few Olympic game seasons, each time there is always a wave of active inspired trends, shown via aesthetics and styles. This was very strong during the London Olympics and the Brazil Olympics. There is a mystique to the Olympics that always influences fashion.

“My macro trend research shows in terms of behaviour that there is a need for celebration and dressing up as people have been able to gather again. But the idea of indoor or home clothing is evolving. Wearing heels or dress shoes for our day to day activities, even at home, as work from home becomes normalised, may be something we see a rise in as well, as people seek to bring together ‘dressing up’ with working from home. Again it’s about the idea of bringing joy into our lives no matter what.”

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