Kids’ Footwear a Shoo-In for Most Popular Back-to-School Purchase

Department and athletic stores seeing most growth, but brick-and-mortar shopping trumps online

TORONTO, July 30, 2014 – The back-to-school shopping period is just around the corner and, as parents start making note of priority purchases, footwear retailers can expect an influx in children’s shoe sales in the weeks ahead. According to the annual Fashion Insight and Trends (FITS) Report from leading global information company The NPD Group, the kids’ footwear category experienced the most year-over-year sales growth across all shoe segments (15 per cent dollar and four per cent unit increases), the majority of which occurred in the weeks leading up to the new school year.

The top children’s categories driving growth are snow boots (35 per cent dollar and 15 per cent unit increases) and running shoes (12 per cent dollar and eight per cent unit increases), which had annual sales of $107 million and $57 million respectively for the year ending December 2013. This existing trend suggests that the upcoming shopping period will once again prove to be a lucrative and competitive time of year for Canadian shoe retailers.

“Back-to-school shopping is a significant annual occasion and parents are mentally geared up to invest in their children’s wardrobes this time of year,” said Sandy Silva, fashion industry analyst at The NPD Group. “Annual shoe replacements are often compulsory since growth spurts and rough play can render kids’ favourite pairs unwearable relatively quickly, but make no mistake: though parents are footing the bill for new pairs, it’s often children – even those who are very young – who are dictating which styles to buy.”

There are a number of stores across Canada where parents can find the latest footwear trends for their kids, all of which are likely to implement aggressive promotional campaigns to win market share during this peak shopping period. This time last year, department stores experienced the most growth in overall footwear sales compared to 2012 (18 per cent), followed closely by the athletic specialty footwear channels (16 per cent). The average price per pair of children’s shoes was $35 and $50 at these respective retailers.

While most footwear is still purchased in store, website sales grew in both dollars (10 per cent) and units (nine per cent) compared to a year ago. Further, of all the online footwear categories, kids’ shoes showed one of the highest increases in average price per pair, but only represented 11 per cent of total sales.

“It’s no secret that e-commerce is an increasingly significant part of the retail experience, and more and more consumers are eagerly exploring the improved convenience and selection that often comes with shopping online,” continued Silva. “That said, not being able to have their kids try on selected styles can be a major deterrent for parents buying shoes, which is why children’s online footwear sales tend to be lower than other categories.”

With new brands and vendors entering the Canadian marketplace at a steady pace, the steep competition will have a lasting effect on all footwear channels. Retailers are always looking for alternative ways to build consumer traffic and increase brand loyalty, so, for many, the goal to evolve from a basic footwear destination and to develop a larger following will be rooted in the ability to ensure that the brand’s core values resonate with consumers as they age.

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The NPD Group, Inc.
900 West Shore Road
Port Washington, NY 11050

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