The second quarter of the year is generally a transition period for the U.S. athletic footwear industry. In this respect it’s an important time for retailers, as they begin to turn their attention towards the biggest seasons for the industry: back-to-school and holiday. Comparing Q2 2016 to Q2 2015, both dollar and unit sales grew by 5 percent, and sales improved in Q2 from the Q1 trend. This set a healthy pace and one that retailers and manufacturers should be pleased with stepping into the next half of the year.
U.S. Athletic Footwear Results, Q2 2016 vs. Q2 2015
|Wearer||Dollar Sales||Dollars % Change|
Children’s athletic footwear experienced the highest uptick in sales, and was the only wearer segment to see an increase in average selling price. Why is the children’s market performing so well? The answer has much to do with the fact that athletic fashion is now the wardrobe of choice for many adults, translating to consumers seeking the same for their children. Just like their Millennial parents, Gen Z has an affinity and loyalty to sneakers and athletic brands. The growth in categories that carry higher price-points, particularly the classics category, and popularity of teen girls buying boys-sized shoes, is driving much of the positive performance. The results can only get better for children’s footwear as the back-to-school season kicks into high gear.
Segueing into the second half of the year, there are a few key developments that I expect to unfold for back-to-school, and even stretch into the holiday season:
First, classics will continue to shine as the growth story, but brands will have to watch their supply and demand closely. It’s very easy for fashion products to get over supplied, which can really hurt a market.
On the other hand, I expect performance basketball to be challenged, but less so as we begin to lap the fall off in business that started during back-to-school last year.
The running category is seeing a sales boost as some new and exciting performance running products are being introduced now. It’s time to keep an eye out for ‘performance running as fashion’ to make a return.
In terms of brands, Adidas and Under Armour will likely be the standout athletic footwear brands for back-to-school. Both had outstanding results in Q2; Adidas sales increased by 75 percent, while Under Armour sales grew 68 percent.
Many forces are at play within the athletic footwear space today, and as the current momentum picks up more speed in the upcoming months, it will be interesting to see how the back-to-school season, and beyond, unfolds.
Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Retail Tracking Service, April-June 2016
Data is collected from the athletic specialty, sporting goods, chain store, department store, and other channels. Athletic footwear includes the following categories: Sport Leisure, Outdoor, Performance, and Work/Occupational/Safety.