The S&P 500 Is Officially a Bear Market. Here’s What That Means for Footwear.

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U.S. stocks on Monday officially entered a bear market, when the S&P 500 dropped 3.9%, closing at more than 21% below its all-time record close from January. (A bear market occurs when an index or individual stock falls 20% or more below a recent high period for an enduring period of time.)

Stocks on Monday were still reeling from Friday’s major hit after the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly inflation report report showed a faster-than-expected rise in prices in May. Consumer prices rose by 8.6% in May compared to a year ago, up from 8.3% growth in April and from the 8.5% growth in March. This represented the largest 12-month increase since the period ending December 1981.

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On top of that, interest rate concerns abound as the Federal Reserve signals goals to aggressively raise interest rates to curb inflation.

Footwear stocks were also impacted across the board as well. As of Friday afternoon, Crocs was down 5.37%, Caleres was down 5.1%, Adidas sank 3.3%, Nike and Steve Madden were both down 3%, Skechers was down 3.3% and Designer Brands Inc. was down 3.38%. Foot Locker, Academy Sports, Shoe Carnival, Target, Kohl’s and Amazon were also down. All of these stocks were still slumped as of market close on Monday evening, but most picked up in by market open on Tuesday.

Despite broader market troubles, when it comes to sales, the footwear industry will likely remain relatively stable compared to other industries. According to Matt Priest, president and CEO of the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA), the shoe industry has a tendency to be “recession resilient” or even recession-proof.

“If purchases on larger appliances, automobiles or bigger-ticket items start to wane, they often turn to purchasing a pair of shoes to get that feel-good moment,” Priest explained. “It’s one thing to drop $800 or $1,000 on a washer or dryer. It’s another thing to spend $150 on a pair of shoes.”

As such, footwear sales do not always track with recessions or broader declines in consumer spending, Priest noted. In recent months, retailers like Walmart and Target have noted consumers shifting from discretionary, large-ticket items to non-discretionary categories such as groceries.

The American footwear industry broke annual records in 2021 at over $100 billion reached in total spending, according to FDRA. Overall, footwear revenues grew 23% in 2021 over 2020, with unit sales also increasing in the double digits.

“We’re hopeful that despite the inflationary pressure, we will still have a decent year in a way that we can continue to build on,” Priest said.

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