Sneakers are more expensive than ever, and they’re not getting cheaper

New data shows that insatiable demand, import charges, and higher wages have skyrocketed the price of sneakers.

Nike shoes are seen in the store in Krakow, Poland on August 26, 2021. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurP...
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Sneaker prices have been steadily rising over the past year, according to new data by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics — and those prices could increase even more as the holiday season approaches.

Per the bureau’s monthly report, overall consumer prices rose by 5.4 percent in September compared to a year ago, with footwear prices showing significant inflation. The cost of men’s shoes has increased 5.5 percent, women’s have risen by 4.9 percent, and kids’ shoe prices have climbed by 11.9 percent. Much of this may be attributed to the pandemic, which has consistently caused labor, supply chain, and product shortages even now, nearly two years after it began.

Limited supply, insatiable demand — The Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA) have noted that footwear prices are seeing the fastest rate of increase in the past 20 years, with year-to-date prices up by 3.2 percent. According to FDRA’s monthly report, detailed by Footwear News, the main causes behind the price hike include import charges, as well as duties and higher wages for retail workers. Footwear import charges increased by $146.3 million USD in August with duties also rising to $320.6 million USD, reports the FDRA.

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Still, demand for sneakers, in particular, could explain their increasing costs: Since the pandemic began, the sneaker industry has benefitted from athleisure trends widening its demographic. Whether shoppers took up running or an interest in celebrity collaborations, companies have been able to cater to a larger group of consumers — sometimes making the most of product shortages.

As demonstrated by Nike’s Travis Scott sneakers and Adidas’ Yeezy slippers, there’s nothing people love more than exclusivity — an opportunity to feel special as a shopper. There’s pride in owning something so limited... but there’s a price too. Exclusive sneakers often retail for $50 to $100 more than their original price immediately, and can resell for thousands of dollars thereafter thanks to their restricted availability. The latter only fuels rising sneaker costs, with some looking to buy sneakers as an investment rather than a style choice.


Will it ever end? — The inflated pricing of footwear is expected to extend into the holiday season and even next year, according to the FDRA. And as the costs continue to rise, sneakers may soon be considered a luxury — if they aren’t already.