Brief Excerpt from Industry Overview Chapter:
Companies in this industry make footwear, including athletic, casual, and dress shoes as well as boots, sandals, and slippers. Major companies include NIKE, Skechers USA, and Wolverine World Wide (all based in the US), along with Adidas (Germany), Asics (Japan), TOD'S (Italy), and Yue Yuen (China), a subsidiary of Pou Chen (Taiwan).
Worldwide, about $140 billion worth of footwear is exported annually, according to the International Trade Centre. Top exporting nations are China, Italy, Vietnam, Germany, Belgium, and Hong Kong.
The US footwear manufacturing industry consists of about 230 establishments (single-location companies and units of multi-location companies) with sales of about $1.8 billion.
Many of the major shoe companies in the US are mainly owners of brand names that contract to have shoes made by independent manufacturers in other countries. Some large US producers, such as New Balance, make a portion of their shoes in the US; some smaller operations manufacture all their shoes in the US. About 99% of all footwear sold in the US is imported, according to The Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America.
Demand is driven by fashion, demographics, and consumer disposable income. The profitability of individual companies depends on their ability to design and market shoe models that effectively target consumers' tastes and preferences. Big companies have economies of scale in distribution and marketing. Small companies can compete successfully by specializing.
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