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Product Knowledge
August/September 2011

Sandals for

summer sales

Whether sold for the lifestyle fashion appeal, or performance functionality, sandals are the main footwear sellers during the summer months

In summer South Africans wear sandals. That is something few people would dispute.

It is also reflected in the importance footwear brands attach to this market segment — from lifestyle fashion to performance brands.

“In SA we enjoy a wonderful extended summer and this weather is conducive to sandals, hence, the focus on sandals in my range,” says Yusuf Vadi of Footwear Trading, brand manager of Casoli Ladies, whose summer range is predominantly lifestyle fashion sandals.

Because sandals are such big winners in summer, most collections across all brands would offer sandals, adds Footwear Trading marketing manager Chantel Steenkamp.

In the Footwear Trading stable Fila offers both lifestyle as well as sports sandals.

“Most of the other brands — Levi’s, Casoli ladies, Diesel and Skechers only have fashion lifestyle sandals that feature the hottest trends of the season,” says Steenkamp.

Lifestyle styles

In fashion lifestyle ranges flat sandals, using cuffs as well as stud detail, alternated with heels and wedges, will be styles to look out for the coming season, says Vadi.

“Heeled sandals feature weaving, burnishing, beading and studding to highlight the beauty of the shoes. Leather stack heels on some styles to add character and value.”

Espadrilles are HUGE this summer, adds Steenkamp. “Ladies sandals feature embellishments, strappy detail and other really feminine treatment.”

On men’s sandals this would include different leather treatments and also different leather textures, for example, ostrich, alligator, snakeskin etc.

Flip-flop sandals are also still big, across fashion lifestyle as well as performance footwear brands.

Outdoor sandals

Sandals have also become a major category for most outdoor performance footwear brands.

This is evident in the fact that in the summer months sandals comprise 30-40% of all outdoor footwear sales.

Sandals as % outdoor sales
Month 2009/10 2010/11
October 28% 31%
November 35% 36%
December 40% 34%
January 35% 30%
February 35% 29%

From figures (see above) supplied by GfK Retail & Technology SA, which tracks SA footwear sales at till point, it transpires that in December 2009 and January 2010, sandal sales were a much higher percentage of outdoor footwear sales than in December 2010 and January 2011, but that more sandals were bought in October-November 2010 than in the corresponding months the year before.

2010 High

Outdoor footwear sales at the end of 2010 and beginning of 2011 were considerably lower than the corresponding period a year before – which would also be reflected in the lower sandal sales.

The growth of sandals as a category in outdoor footwear is illustrated by the fact that in January-February 2009 sandals comprised 26% and 24% of outdoor footwear sales respectively.

Not surprisingly, sandal sales drop to 6-8% of outdoor footwear sales during the mid-winter months of June, July.

The brands agree that sandal sales are good sellers.

“Hi-Tec have seen tremendous growth in the sandal category over the last 12 months and that will continue, we are sure,” says Little. “It is a very exciting category for us and our range for summer 2012/13 will also see new styles and colourways, to add to the expanded range we’ll sell this summer.”

Sandals is a market section that has shown consistent growth over the last two years, agrees Jackie Moore of Salomon.

Karrimor and Rocky confirm the important contribution of sandals to their summer sales.

* GfK Retail & Technology tracks SA footwear retail sales at till point. Retailers who want to become part of the Sports Panel (no cost involved and you receive their stats) or brands interested in obtaining data, can contact Craig Bowen on Tel: 011 803 1300 or Also see

Water shoe sales:

Growing, growing, growth

Over the past few summer seasons water shoes, often worn as a substitute for sandals, has become a growing market segment.

With water shoe designs becoming more and more attractive, many consumers, especially those enjoying an active lifestyle, buy water shoes for everyday wear. Especially the shoes with a running shoe profile, but cool mesh uppers that allows good air flow, are becoming popular casual footwear choices.

Water shoes % of outdoor footwear
- Jan Feb Dec
2009 19% 13% 26%
2010 20% 12% 32%
2011 28% 22% -

The growth of water shoes as an alternative choice for summer is illustrated by the fact that in December 2009 water shoes comprised 26% of outdoor footwear sales and sandals 40% (according to statistics supplied by GfK Retail & Technology SA*). But in December 2010, water shoes at 32% of outdoor footwear sales nearly caught up with sandals (34%).

In January and February 2011 water shoe sales also made huge inroads in the outdoor footwear market segment, growing its slice from 20% to 28% in January and 12% to 22% in February (see table).

What is surprising, though, is that watersport enthusiasts keep on buying footwear during the winter months.

Most of the outdoor footwear brands confirm that water shoes has been a good growth category.

While Little believes that water shoes will always be a much smaller category than sandals, Hi-Tec have seen good growth in future orders for their new Avon water shoe.

Rocky has also experienced a resurgence in this category, with increased sales of their Hiker and Peak water shoe models.

Salomon specializes in the water shoe/sandal market for the athletic outdoor consumer, rather than the fashion-conscious sandal consumer, and while they have experienced growth in water shoe sales, “I do not see it reaching the heights of the fashion sandal market,” says Jackie Moore.

Photo: Courtesy of GDS Shoe Fair

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