Delving into the in-store and online fashion footwear sales dynamic amid the COVID-19 pandemic, The NPD Group reports that both U.S. in-store and online sales declined in March over last year, by 50 percent and 15 percent, respectively.
Although online sales declined for the month, this channel fared three-times better than brick-and-mortar (stores were closed, mind you) and as a result, online penetration spiked to 39percent— the highest level since NPD began tracking it— compared to 28 percent during the first two months of the year. Footwear brands’ own, direct-to-consumer websites gained the most share online, followed by athletic footwear specialty sites. Despite sales volume declines over last year, department stores gained share of the online footwear market in March.
“Many external reports are touting a ‘strong’ e-commerce business once major retailers closed their doors, but the caveat is that the definition of ‘strong sales’ has taken on a very different meaning in the current environment,” states Beth Goldstein, fashion footwear and accessories analyst at NPD. “Market share has really become the primary measure of success.” She adds, “We can expect that online penetration will become even higher, on account of a few factors. In addition to April being a full month of quarantine and store closures, discounting and promotional activity accelerated quickly once retailers shut their doors, helping to drive sales. More recently, we’ve also begun to see sales pick up for warmer weather styles. Concerns over returning to stores also present potential for longer-term online shopping.”