Home Blog 2019 Athletic Footwear and Activewear 2018 Sales Performance
Feb 5, 2019

Sneakernomics: What Really Happened with Athletic Footwear and Activewear Sales in 2018

Subscribe to our blog

U.S. athletic footwear sales grew in the mid-single digits for the year, exceeding my expectations due to strong Q4 results. Many of the factors for growth were one-offs and unlikely to be replicable in 2019, so fresh opportunities must be sought after for growth in this new year. The 53rd week in the 2018 retail calendar, which was accounted for in January 2018, produced about one-third of the market’s growth. 

Here are some of the major highlights:

Footwear

Fourth quarter sales gains for cold/all weather boots helped to drive sales gains for the year; the weather was a big factor in its success.

The “democratization” of Adidas’s Yeezy franchise led to unexpected gains, in my opinion, with sales up more than five times. Whether Yeezy can withstand the pressure of the expanded allocation remains to be seen.

Performance footwear categories were all negative for the third year running, as the athleisure trend has fully taken over athletic footwear. Running, training, and basketball all experienced sales declines. Basketball, in particular, shrunk to one of its smallest sales numbers in years. However, while performance struggles the opportunity lies in athletic inspired sneakers with a performance-based heritage, as they are reaping the benefits of this shift. Sport lifestyle footwear, designed for style and every day wear and not for engaging in sport activity, continues to drive the broader footwear market and now represents nearly half of all athletic shoes sold in the U.S. Also included in this segment are skate shoes and sport slides, which both also had a solid year with sales growing by more than 40 percent and over 20 percent, respectively.

Among the more sport-specific footwear, soccer boots grew in the low singles, which I’ve observed is typical during a World Cup year. Those gains are often given back the following year. Baseball and football cleats both declined.

Looking at retail channel performance, premium department stores had the greatest increase, as they fully exploited the athleisure trend. The athletic specialty/sporting goods channel grew in the low single digits for the year, with particular strength during Q4. Shoe chains improved their sales in the high singles, while mid-tier department stores were up in the mid-singles.

By brand, Adidas sales grew in the high teens in 2018 and took over 100 basis points in share. Adidas now has the highest share I’ve ever recorded. Nike brand had a mid-single increase, showing renewed interest in and growth for the brand. Nike Inc. grew in the low singles, with growth in the Nike brand partially offset by declines in Brand Jordan and Converse. It is still newsworthy that the largest athletic footwear brand is growing again.

The top selling athletic footwear styles for 2018, in dollar rank order, were dominated by Nike. These styles were: Nike Tanjun, Nike Air Max 270, Converse Chuck Taylor Ox Low, Jordan XI, Nike Air Huarache, Vans Ward, Nike Revolution 4, Nike Flex Contact, Adidas Yeezy Boost 350 v2, and Nike Air Force 1 Low.

Vans had a banner year as sales increased by nearly 60 percent, and Brooks grew by nearly 30 percent. New Balance, Reebok, and Skechers all grew, while Under Armour, ASICS, Saucony, and Mizuno posted declines.

Activewear

In 2018, activewear sales increased in the low single-digits, also boosted primarily by the 53rd week mentioned above. The men’s and kids markets both grew, while women's declined.

Premium outerwear, sweatshirts, and activewear bottoms were the stand-out categories. Bras and socks continued to decline.

By channel, premium department stores grew the fastest, with sales up nearly 10 percent, but mid-tier department stores and athletic specialty/sporting goods outlets also saw gains.

The aggregation of all the retailers’ private brands was again the largest “brand” and growth driver. Adidas apparel grew by more than a third, and Nike improved in the high single-digits, while Under Armour sales declined. The North Face, Columbia, and Patagonia all experienced gains.



Stay current in your industry
SUBSCRIBE

Related Blog Posts

Tagged: Sports


Sneakernomics: What Does the NBA-China News Mean for Sports Brands?
Sneakernomics: What Does the NBA-China News Mean for Sports Brands?

NPD’s Matt Powell offers his analysis of the NBA-China dilemma and what the potential implications are for sports brands.

Sneakernomics: Checking in on the Run Specialty Market
Sneakernomics: Checking in on the Run Specialty Market

According to NPD’s Matt Powell, Hoka One One and On Running are two brands within the run specialty channel that are showing strong growth and boosting results within that market. Another brand the market should keep an eye on is Oofos; they are trending nicely in run specialty, and in his opinion could be the next big comfort brand.

Make Way for the Anglers
Make Way for the Anglers

Fishing has established itself as a growth driver for the U.S. paddlesports market, but is also emerging as a focus of growth for the broader specialty outdoor market. Dirk explains how, and why, fishing apparel and equipment are making their way into more stores that once avoided the category.

Sneakernomics: Back-to-School 2019 Athletic Footwear Trends
Sneakernomics: Back-to-School 2019 Athletic Footwear Trends

NPD’s sports industry advisor Matt Powell offers up his perspective on how the back-to-school season of today differs from years past, and what athletic footwear brands and products are trending this year.

Newsletter

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

We will not sell your information. View privacy notice.

Follow Us

© The NPD Group, Inc.