The average shoe price is around Rs 25,000 in India, compared with $100,000 or more in China, South Korea and the United States.
Many Indians have no choice but to buy them.
But with the average price of a pair of sneakers at Rs 1,600 (Rs 4,000 for men) and the average cost of a shoe in Delhi at about Rs 500 ($6.80), it’s no wonder that some shoppers are forced to pay up.
“We have to pay a lot of money,” said a young man, who asked not to be named.
“This is how we survive.”
A shoe from a brand like Adidas would cost at least Rs 1 lakh ($3,400) in India.
“It’s not as cheap as other countries, but at least it’s affordable,” said Kunal Nair, an activist who runs the popular online shoe store.
“They can afford to make the shoe for a lot less than in China and South Korea.
People will have a much better life with us than with the Chinese or South Korean companies.”
In the past two years, the Indian shoe market has become more competitive.
“With this market, we can compete with the US and Europe,” said Ankur Srivastava, executive director of the Indian National Retail Federation (INRF).
“The cost of shoes is less and it’s cheaper.”
But a new competitor to Nike, Adidas and other big brands is emerging: Shoe Factory, which is part of a consortium of companies, including LVMH, Wal-Mart, Puma and Nike, that makes shoeing machines.
“Shoe Factory is not the best company in the world, but it’s the cheapest,” said Vidyut Tandon, a senior analyst at BMO Capital Markets.
“Its brand is a lot more popular than Nike, but I don’t think it will be a competitor to Adidas anytime soon.”
The biggest issue with the Indian market is its lack of retail space, said Ravi Jain, founder and chief executive officer of a local shoe brand.
“In India, there are very few retail outlets, and that is where the problems start,” said Jain.
“There is no retail space in most areas.”
But, with the new, more modern, retail stores opening in major cities, that could change.
In a survey carried out last year, almost 60 per cent of Indians aged 15 to 34 were likely to shop at the next shoe store opening.
According to a survey conducted by the footwear business association, Shoe Shop, only about one-third of those who have used the shops said they would shop there again.
“The retail space is not there, the shopping is not happening and the people are not buying shoes,” said Sajid, a salesman at a local brand.