Home Blog 2019 Looking at the athletic footwear and activewear categories in the first half of the year
Jul 31, 2019

Sneakernomics: Athletic Footwear and Activewear’s Performance in the 1st Half of 2019

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The first half of 2019 proved challenging for sport footwear (defined here as the aggregate of sport lifestyle, performance, work / occupation, and outdoor footwear, from The NPD Group’s Retail Tracking Service). Sales of sport footwear for the first half of 2019 declined in the low-single digits.

Last year’s retail calendar accounted for a 53rd week in January, which led, in part, to declines in the first quarter of the year, in addition to late and lower tax returns, as well as a late Easter. In the second quarter, the lack of a new tax cut combined with extreme and unseasonable weather served as further headwinds.

By channel, athletic specialty / sporting goods and premium department stores grew in the low-single digits. Shoe chains declined in the low-single digits as well, and mid-tier department stores saw declines in the high single digits. These declines are likely due to brands failing to replace their top-selling shoes from 2018.

Women’s and men’s sport footwear declined in the low-single digits, while kids’ sales were flat compared to last year.

Performance footwear categories also experienced declines. In the first half of the year, basketball shoes were down in the high teens; training shoes had declined in the low teens; and running shoes had fallen in the mid-single digits. In addition, tennis, baseball, football and soccer shoes all declined. There is no indication that performance footwear is coming back in fashion anytime soon; athleisure still seems to reign supreme.

Sport lifestyle grew in the mid-single digits, and skate grew in the mid-teens, both well off previous pace. The sandals and slides businesses were challenged by extreme weather.

Nike brand sales grew in the low-single digits for the first half of the year, as did Brand Jordan. Adidas, Converse, Sketchers, New Balance, Asics and Under Armour all saw declines in the first 6 months of the year based on NPD’s covered markets.

Vans sales grew about 25 percent; Brooks grew about 10 percent. Puma and Fila also experienced nice growth. Merrell, Keen and UGG all showed declines.

The top-selling footwear styles during the first half of 2019 in dollar rank order are:

Nike AIR MAX 270, Nike TANJUN, JORDAN 6 RINGS, Nike AIR FORCE 1, JORDAN VI, JORDAN IV, Adidas NMD R1, Chuck Taylor OX LOW, Vans WARD, Nike REVOLUTION 4.

(Note: eight of these shoes fall into the sport lifestyle category; one falls into the skate category; and one falls into the running category.)

Activewear sales declined in the low-single digits for the first half of the year, according to NPD’s Retail Tracking Service. Many of the same issues that sport footwear faced were reasons why activewear struggled. Women’s activewear declined in the mid-single digits, ceding share to the vertical brands. Men’s and kids’ activewear also declined in the low-single digits.

Athletic specialty / sporting goods declined in the low-single digits as well, while mid-tier and premium department stores were down in the mid-single digits.

Knit shirts declined in the mid-single digits while sweatshirts grew in the mid-single digits. Pants were down in the low-single digits and shorts in the mid-single digits. Sports bras dropped in the low teens while socks declined in the high single digits. Swimwear was down in the mid-single digits.

Private label, which served as the largest “brand” during the first half of the year, grew in the low-single digits year-over-year. Nike brand was essentially flat while Under Armour declined in the mid-teens. Adidas activewear grew in the mid-single digits. Fruit of the Loom and Hanes both posted declines. Columbia grew in the mid-single digits while The North Face was down in the low teens. Patagonia grew by one-third.  Champion was up approximately +50 percent.

I expect we will see sport footwear increase in the low-single digits in the second half of 2019, and for activewear to decline in the low-single digits.



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