Footwear sales in the U.S. were up 7.9 percent in March, rising to a near-record $2.41 billion, just short of the $2.45 billion record set in February.
March marked the 28th straight month of year-over-year gains in footwear sales, the longest streak of expansion in more than two decades, according to the Footwear Distributers and Retailers of America.
Footwear imports are one of the higher-volume cargoes carried by shipping lines in the eastbound Pacific. About 85 percent of all U.S. footwear imports come from China.
However, according to an FDRA sourcing study, footwear production is beginning to migrate to other countries, such as Vietnam, because of increasing production costs in coastal China.
Footwear sales in the first quarter of 2012 increased 7.4 percent over the first three months of 2011. At the current rate, annual shoe store sales are on track to the fastest growth in more than two decades, and could rise to record levels in 2012, the FDRA reported.