cropped view of sportswoman tying shoelaces on sneakers

The July 2021 Retail Report by the British Footwear Association (BFA) highlights that while the value of footwear and leather goods climbed in July 2021, there’s still a long way to go before the market performs at pre-pandemic levels.

Key Information

  • The value of footwear and leather goods sales in July climbed 28.5% year-on-year.
  • Retail demand for footwear and leather goods grew faster than the broader retail market again in July.
  • The July jump accelerated the gain in YTD footwear demand, hinting at a full year rebound in 2021.
  • But we look for gains in footwear and leather goods sales to moderate further.
  • It likely will take years for retail demand for footwear and leather goods to return to pre-pandemic levels.


Consumer demand for footwear and leather goods extended its streak of rebounds in July, but growth slowed sharply again as year-ago comps improved, hinting at little to no continued extension of the growth streak in the coming months.

Footwear and leather goods sold in July rose impressively both in volume and value terms, up 28.7% and 28.5% year-on-year respectively, easily outpacing gains across the broader retail market for the fourth straight month. These robust gains suggest shoppers with pent-up demand are eagerly buying replacement footwear. Even across the online channel, while other retail sub-sectors posted a second straight month of unwelcome declines from a year earlier, e-commerce sales at textile, clothing, and footwear stores rose year-on-year for the fifteenth straight month, reflecting this shift in shopper interest.

This latest upbeat reading helped fuel the expansion in year-to-date sales of footwear and leather goods, hinting that full-year sales similarly are likely to rebound. Over the first seven months of the year these sales are up 12.7% in value terms and 19.2% in volume terms.

“We estimate for full-year sales to just match 2020 sales, demand for footwear and leather goods over the remaining five months of the year can afford to contract an average -13.6% and -16.9% in value and volume terms, respectively,” explains BFA CEO Lucy Reece Raybould.

“Given improving year-ago comps, we suspect year-on-year gains will continue to decelerate in coming months and perhaps even turn negative as autumn approaches. Even so, any declines will not be enough to stop a rebound in footwear and leather goods sales in 2021. But we caution a full recovery to 2019 levels remains over the horizon and unlikely until next year at the earliest.”

BFA Members can download the complete Retail Report for July 2021, here.