Home Blog Back-to-School Activewear and Footwear 2017 Predictions
Jul 10, 2017

Sneakernomics: Athletic Footwear and Activewear Back-to-School 2017 Predictions

Subscribe to our blog

I am more pessimistic today than I was in December about the short-term prospects for the U.S. athletic footwear and apparel markets.

Late last year, my expectation was that 2017 would be an average year, with a weak first half offsetting a strong second half. The anticipated soft sales in February occurred, but the rebound has not materialized.

Then I discovered the Hispanic spending slowdown, as I wrote about recently. Athletic footwear sales to Hispanics have been quite soft, after several years of good growth. As Hispanics represent more than 20 percent of the U.S. athletic footwear market, this slowdown has had a significant impact on the business, and I expect that it will contribute to a soft back-to-school performance for athletic footwear. All brands and channels are affected by this Hispanic slowdown, but Nike, Brand Jordan, Vans, and Skechers are hurt the most.

Classics, lifestyle running, and casual athletic will remain the strongest growth categories. Performance footwear will remain soft for back-to-school, although the declines in basketball will moderate with easier comparisons. In line with this, technical running brands will continue to struggle.  Nike has had soft sales results in the U.S. and there is nothing to suggest that this trend will get better for the back-to-school season. Representing about half of the total athletic footwear market share in the U.S., Nike sales impact the entire industry. My expectation is that Under Armour footwear sales will struggle for back-to-school, even with the expanded distribution. 

All in all, I expect that athletic footwear will post a low to mid-single digit decline for the back-to-school season. Given the changes to advertised pricing policies, we can expect this to be the most promotional back-to-school in the 17 years I’ve been doing research.

I also expect that the U.S. activewear market will be challenged, but for different reasons. Since the beginning of the activewear movement, hundreds of fashion brands have rushed into the category to try and grab some of the gold. Retailers are now filled to the rafters with sweatshirts and yoga pants, most of which are made by brands that don’t know how to make performance apparel, and sold to retailers who don’t know how to sell performance apparel.

This push has caused a glut in the market that will take time to flush out. The core activewear brands and retailers are getting crushed under the increased and inferior competition.

Both Nike and Under Armour apparel will most likely struggle for back-to-school, while Adidas will thrive. The more mass brands should also fare well this season.

I expect that activewear sales during back-to-school 2017 will decline in the low single-digits.

As in athletic footwear, this will be one of the most heavily promotional environments seen in decades.


Stay current in your industry
SUBSCRIBE

Related Content

Tagged: Sports


Sneakernomics: First Half 2020 Athletic Footwear and Activewear Sales Results
Sneakernomics: First Half 2020 Athletic Footwear and Activewear Sales Results

Matt Powell recaps how the sneaker and active apparel markets fared in the first half of 2020.

Golf Equipment U.S. Sales Jump 51% in June, The NPD Group Reports
Golf Equipment U.S. Sales Jump 51% in June, The NPD Group Reports

With golf courses around the United States reopening and the sport being a social distance-friendly activity, golf equipment sales are surging.

Sneakernomics: Back-to-School through the Lens of Sports Retail
Sneakernomics: Back-to-School through the Lens of Sports Retail

Matt Powell outlines how the economic and behavioral shifts due to the pandemic will impact the back-to-school environment and sneaker sales in the weeks ahead.

The Top Trends Shaping Footwear Today
The Top Trends Shaping Footwear Today

The pandemic has simultaneously bred new footwear trends and amplified some existing ones. Here are the top trends shaping the industry in today’s new world.

Newsletter

Subscribe and get key market trends and insights relevant to your industry each month.

We will not sell your information. View privacy notice. | Cookie Settings

Follow Us

© 2020 The NPD Group, Inc.