Italy has been the first country in Europe to take the hit of the Covid-19 epidemic, and it has been strongly impacted so far. The country has been hit by an ongoing epidemiological crisis, which created a complex situation for many sectors of the footwear industry “We face a situation of the utmost urgency”, the Italian Footwear Association - Assocalzaturifici alerts.
Retail has been heavily impacted since the Government declared the mandatory quarantine, firstly in the North region and then in the entire country. Shops that are usually open to the public are now closed and there is no indication of a reopening date. As a result, purchases of shoes can be made online for now. However, Amazon.com, for example, already announced that it will stop shipping non-essential products to consumers in Italy and France, being up to merchants on the platform to ship directly to customers in the region.
A new Decree following the latest communication of the country’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte provided that from now until the 3rd of April the country's production, industrial and commercial activities will be suspended to counter the Covid-19 emergency, except for the categories related to food supplies and health.
Assocalzaturifici confirmed it is carrying out lobbying activities so that the chain of companies that produce safety and accident prevention footwear can be an exception. The association estimates that Italian production of footwear with a metal protective toe for 2018 has been approximately 8.3 million pairs, with a value of 214.4 million euros. The share of this sector on the national production of footwear is 4.5% of the total quantity for an export value of 392 million euros. The main destinations are Germany, France, Spain and the Czech Republic.
The Cura Italia [Cure Italy] Decree recently passed by the Government allocated resources of up to 25 billion euros, including the provision of bonuses and measures to support families, businesses and workers. It also enables business to apply for the “Redundancy Fund” as well as providing employees with access to paid leave and severance pay. The Guarantee Fund for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SME's) has been substantially increased together with added support for exports and internationalisation and an extraordinary suspension of mortgage payments and loan repayments. “I hope that these measures, and any further ones that may be introduced, will succeed in tackling the health and economic emergency caused by Coronavirus”, commented Tommaso Cancellara, General Manager of the Association.
Assocalzaturifici expects a reduction in orders, which is fuelled by the postponement of various trade fairs that should have taken place in the forthcoming months. “Fortunately, MICAM was held as usual last February and attending companies were able to sign contracts and put orders in, marginally bettering a situation that had already been complex since the beginning of the year”, commented Cancellara, postponing a balance of the full impact for the end of this semester. Finally, the Italian Footwear Association hopes national and international (EU) institutions can put in place adequate economic measures to tackle the crisis from both an economic and an employment point of view.
Italian Footwear Industry
The Italian Footwear industry is mainly located in the regions of Marche, Toscana and Veneto.
In 2018 Italy was the 3rd largest exporter of footwear with revenue of roughly 11 billion US dollars, according to the World Footwear Yearbook. In that year, Italy was the 10th largest producer with 184 million pairs, in a top 10 dominated by Asian countries (7 out of 10).