This season's switch to the retro style made famous by Ginger Rogers is, at its root, an effort to kick-start weak shoe sales, the New York Times reported Tuesday.
"It's been three years of declining sales for both men's and women's dress shoes," said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst for the NPD Group, a research firm based in Port Washington, N.Y.
In 2001, the combined men's and women's dress shoe business was $5.5 billion. The next year, it dropped to $5 billion. In 2003, it was down to $4.2 billion.
Initial reports indicate 2004 may see an uptick.
"We've had a very good reaction," said Joan Kaner, fashion director at Neiman Marcus. "But mostly from the very fashion-forward."