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

NPD Sports Industry Analyst Matt Powell reviews the performance of athletic footwear and activewear categories during the first six months of 2019. From sport and performance footwear to athletic attire and more, this performance review takes a look at where the industry currently stands and could potentially be heading.

Sneakernomics: First Half 2019 Team Sports, Golf and Fitness Equipment
Sneakernomics: First Half 2019 Team Sports, Golf and Fitness Equipment

Given all the headwinds in team sports and golf, the industry fared better than expected in the first half of 2019. In this post, Sports Industry Analyst Matt Powell breaks down increases and declines from the first half of the year.

Sneakernomics: Are We “Post-Sneaker”?
Sneakernomics: Are We “Post-Sneaker”?

For decades, U.S. consumers coveted the latest athletic footwear being touted as the most technologically advanced with the power to make a consumer a better runner, basketball player, tennis player, or even an aerobics superstar. Now that athleisure is the leading footwear category, is performance footwear all but done?

Outdoor Retailer 2019 and the Rise of Everyday Outdoor
Outdoor Retailer 2019 and the Rise of Everyday Outdoor

The concept of 'Everyday Outdoor" captures the idea of consumers seeking outdoor products with pragmatic, everyday use, as well as those that bring the 'creature comforts' of home - like coffee that stays hot - to the outdoors.

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.