Originally written by Nikara Johns at Footwear News on May 8, 2020.
From bankruptcies to layoffs, it has been a trying few months for the footwear industry. And as April saw the worst monthly unemployment rate on record, with 20.5 million jobs lost amid the coronavirus crisis in the United States, the shoe business continues to face severe consequences.
According to the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America, employment at footwear stores dramatically plunged in April, amounting to 173,000 shoe workers either being laid off or furloughed as the coronavirus took hold across the U.S.
Because of this, the need for the Two Ten Footwear Foundation, which has been helping shoe people in need for 80 years, is greater than ever.
So far the charitable organization has awarded close to $1.1 million dollars in crisis relief to 1,800 footwear families during from March 16 to May 8. Two Ten said it anticipates immediate need to continue for the next six months, in addition to a ripple effect of financial hardships for an another 12 to 18 months.
In March, just at the COVID-19 outbreak began to spread rapidly across the U.S., Two Ten told FN that 70% of calls came from single mothers concerned with child care, food and rent. Since then, there has been a continued uptick in crisis relief applications — a startling 4,500 to be exact, according to the nonprofit.
Two Ten also said it’s expecting a need in excess of $10 million, and possibly more given today’s staggering unemployment news, as more than half of the shoe industry is now laid off or furloughed.
Nordstrom, Macy’s, DSW and JCPenney are among the scores of retailers that have furloughed significant portions of their workforce amid the COVID-19 crisis. Meanwhile, for J.Crew and Neiman Marcus, which filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the past week, the pandemic has been a significant factor contributing to their need to seek substantial financial relief.