Footwear in its purest form is a necessity, providing support as well as protection to one's feet from the various surfaces walked upon, be they: uneven, coarse, or sharp surfaces. Previous generations may have survived with one or two pairs of functional footwear. Today however, the majority of people have a collection of footwear to meet various criteria and needs. Formal, casual, athletic: footwear come in a wide variety of shapes, styles, and sizes.
Footwear has also become an important form of expression for many people from all walks of life, not only serving a practical purpose for the wearer, but also playing a role in portraying their self-identity through the footwear they choose. Consumers interact more and more with clothing and footwear and display a range of behaviors in their purchase patterns of these products. Shoes, along with apparel, have turned from simple goods into genuine status symbols for consumers. Footwear brands and retailers play a huge role in catering to this market and these attitudes through their respective offerings and ranges as well as their advertising campaigns. As of 2016, Nike held the largest share of the the U.S. footwear market with a 17.9 percent share.
Consumers spend significant amounts of their discretionary income on apparel and footwear. In recent years, athletic clothing and footwear has become very trendy and this segment has experienced strong growth in the United States. In 2017 alone, athletic footwear generated approximately 19.6 billion U.S. dollars for the U.S. economy. As of 2017, the average selling price of a pair of athletic footwear was 58.16 U.S. dollars.