The value of Italian footwear exports rose by 6.8% in 2019 compared with 2018 to more than €10 billion – a record amount – driven by the strong performance of luxury brands. However, production levels fell by 3%, reflected by a declining workforce and “a domestic market in the grip of recession”, according to Assocalzaturifici, the Italian footwear manufacturers’ association. Siro Badon, chairman of Assocalzaturifici, said: “To this we must add the major uncertainties for 2020, with the as yet unquantifiable consequences for the global economy from the coronavirus emergency, which broke out in one of the few areas of constant growth for our sector in the last decade. In this complex situation, our industry needs to focus on technological innovation and on training new professionals in order to manage the generational turnover process. “These are the drivers for improving the performance of a sector that – with its workforce of 75,000 people, trade surplus of almost €5 billion and production of 8 billion – is of crucial importance to the Italian economy.”

Exports to Russia fell 15.3% in volume in the first 10 months of the year, while those to Germany and the Middle East fell 9%. However, exports to France, the US, China and South Korea rose between 7% and 20%. Sales into the domestic market continued to fall, with only sports shoe sales seeing a slight increase.

At the end of December 2019, the sector had 4,326 companies (179 fewer) and 74,890 direct employees, 790 fewer than in the same month the year before.