I went shopping at Nike, Ugg & Foot Locker in New York, experts say worst shoe shortage is yet to come

Global supply chain slowdowns are expected to impact everyone this holiday season, from retailers to consumers.

The problems particularly affect the footwear industry. For example, a global shortage of rubber and plastic, which are essential in the production of sneakers, has made it difficult for factories to produce enough products to meet demand, a phenomenon exacerbated by labor shortages. and the shutdowns of overseas factories in China, Malaysia and Vietnam. In addition to material shortages, factory closures, high transportation costs and port congestion, it is difficult for retailers to secure enough inventory.

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Consumers are aware of these issues. According to KPMG consumer pulse survey For the 2021 holiday season, more than 50% of 1,000 respondents expressed concern about shortages in stores and shipping delays. 61% said they plan to start shopping for the holidays in October to prepare for stockouts.

Before the holiday shopping season, I went on a shoe shopping spree at seven stores in New York City. On the wholesale and non-price side, I stopped at Foot Locker, DSW and Famous Footwear. On the DTC brand side, I stopped at Nike, Ugg, Skechers and Vans.

Overall, I did not observe any noticeable out-of-stock items at any store. According to analysts and experts, there are several reasons why this has been my experience.

Since most of the inventory at brand-owned stores is kept in stores out of the sight of customers, it was difficult to tell if there were any inventory shortages at a glance. However, at the Vans store I did inquire about a few top selling shoes, such as the white slip-ons which are stole shelves in the wake of Netflix’s Squid Game. They were still in stock.

There was no noticeable out-of-stock condition in the Vans store in New York.  - Credit: Shoshy Ciment / Footwear News

There was no noticeable out-of-stock condition in the Vans store in New York. – Credit: Shoshy Ciment / Footwear News

Shoshy Cement / Shoes News

According to BMO Capital Markets analyst Simeon Seigel, if a company has limited inventory, it will likely allocate products to its most important channels and markets first. New York is home to many flagship stores and a thriving shopping environment, which might explain my rather pleasant shopping experience. Buyers in other geographies or smaller stores may have a different experience.

Seigel also said that while stores may have physical products, scarcity could be present in the lack of compelling products available.

“Novelty sells out fast and it sells for a high price (or more),” he said. “Excess can sit down. Just seeing boxes doesn’t guarantee that you see the boxes that will sell.

A fully stocked aisle in DSW in New York.  - Credit: Shoshy Ciment / Footwear News

A fully stocked aisle in DSW in New York. – Credit: Shoshy Ciment / Footwear News

Shoshy Cement / Shoes News

This type of rarity will probably be most present in a chain like DSW or Famous Footwear, explained Liza Amlani, director and founder of a consulting company. Retail strategy group.

Yet when I visited DSW and Famous Footwear, the shelves were overflowing with inventory boxes. According to Amlani, while some stores may appear to be fully stocked, much of that inventory could be surplus or older. At the same time, some stores such as DSW have been working proactively to diversify supply to keep products in store, which might also explain my experience.

Going forward, Amlani predicts that the shortage of truck drivers and labor will further delay the product and create a more visible shortage in stores.

“The shelves will be empty,” she said. “I assure you.”

The Famous Footwear inventory in New York.  - Credit: Shoshy Ciment / Footwear News

Inventory at Famous Footwear in New York. – Credit: Shoshy Ciment / Footwear News

Shoshy Cement / Shoes News

Other experts have also suggested that the worst shortages are yet to come.

“When it comes to the supply chain, we always look to the future,” said Bindiya Vakil, CEO of global supply chain monitoring company Resilinc. “The shortage we are talking about is not about the shoes that are in store, or even those on the way; that’s the offer behind that layer.

Since sneakers aren’t technically essential items, these shortages won’t be as dramatic as previous shortages of toilet paper and eggs resulting from panic buying. But fewer shoes overall will likely lead to higher prices for high-demand pairs. Price of shoes already increased 6.5% in September, compared to the period of the previous year.

“By raising the price, you automatically have fewer people buying the shoes,” Vakil said.

Despite all the hype around the supply chain this year, shortages are not a new concept for the footwear industry.

According to Matt Powell, senior sports industry advisor for The NPD Group Inc., port congestion has been a constant theme for the past five years. And although the impact will be more visible in the spring, these delays will not spell the end of the industry.

“I see this as an aggravation and will not have a significant impact on the business,” Powell said.

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