Through the lens of NPD Retail Tracking Service data, the revenue growth rate for athletic footwear slowed in the third quarter (July through September), compared to the rate measured in the first six months of the year. First-half revenue increased by more than a third, compared to 2020, and by about 25%, versus the same period in 2019. In the third quarter (Q3), revenues only grew in the low teens, compared to both years. Brands that released many limited edition shoes in 2020 struggled to keep up with market growth. Managing the marketplace has never been more important than it is today.

The kids’ side of the athletic footwear market had a strong back-to-school season, with revenue up about 20% in Q3, versus 2020. With many schools in hybrid or virtual mode last year, kids had little need for new shoes. Women’s athletic footwear revenue grew in the high teens for the quarter, even as Nike and Adidas ceded share. The men’s market grew only in the high single digits, having previously benefitted from the flood of limited edition shoes in 2020.

In terms of category performance, revenues for casual, athletic inspired sneakers grew in the high single digits, versus 2020, trailing the overall market. Basketball shoes also grew in the high single digits. Performance running sales improved by about 25%. Walking and skate shoes grew more than 20%, and hiking was up in the mid-single digits.

By channel, shoe chains captured the best performance for the quarter, with revenue up nearly 30%. Premium department stores grew by about 20%, while mid-tier and value stores growth reached the mid-teens. The athletic specialty and sporting goods channel trailed the market, up in the mid-single digits.

At the brand level, Nike footwear revenues increased by mid-single digits for the quarter, while Jordan had a high single-digit decline. Converse grew more than 50%, as the brand’s women’s business doubled. Nike Inc. gave up 350 basis points in share in Q3. Adidas footwear sales improved, with a growth rate in the mid-teens. Skechers, Brooks, and Under Armour grew by nearly 30%, while New Balance, Saucony, and ASICS were up about 20%. Vans sales gained about a third.

Puma had an outstanding Q3, with revenue up by more than half. Reebok grew by about two-thirds. Hoka One One sales nearly doubled, while On tripled. Given the current trajectory, On is on track to surpass Hoka in market share in 2022.

The top-selling athletic footwear styles for Q3, in rank order by revenue, were as follows: Nike Air Max 270, Nike Air Max Excee, Nike Air Max 90, Nike Revolution 5, Nike Air Force 1 ’07 Low, Nike Court Vision Low, Adidas NMD R1, Nike Flex Runner, Nike Air Vapormax 2021 FK, and Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21.

In terms of the activewear market, revenues increased by about 20% in Q3, versus last year, but the trend slowed in September.

Kids’ products were the stars in activewear, growing nearly 25% for Q3. Products for women lagged the category, only growing in the mid-single digits. Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour all ceded share in women’s products in Q3. Men’s activewear grew by more than 20%.

Highlighting key categories, sweatshirts and pants sales slowed in Q3, only growing in the high teens. Outerwear tops declined in the low single digits. Knit shirts grew by about 25%, and socks were up by more than 20%.

In terms of the best performing channels, revenues from the activewear business in department stores grew by more than 20%, while athletic specialty and sporting goods stores improved by about 20%.

Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour all had increases during the quarter, but underperformed the market. Hanes grew in the high teens, while Fruit of the Loom posted a decline. Champion grew by nearly two-thirds, Reebok sales tripled, and Puma improved by about half. The aggregate of all retailers’ private brands grew in line with the market for Q3.

Keep an eye out for my holiday predictions blog, which will publish next week.