Home Blog Matt Powell

The NPD Group Blog

Insights and Opinions From Analysts and Experts in More Than 20 Industries

Matt Powell

Vice President, Senior Industry Advisor - Sports


Matt Powell, vice president and senior industry advisor for The NPD Group, covers the sports, outdoor, and recreation marketplace. He offers his industry expertise on retail sales and consumer trends across apparel, footwear, and equipment for categories such as running, outdoor, paddlesports, fitness, and cycling. With over 40 years of experience in the retail and research industries, Powell has worked with leading retailers and e-tailers in sporting goods such as Modell’s Sporting Goods, Sneaker Stadium, and MVP.com. Previously, Powell was an analyst for SportsOneSource, and has provided insights to many of the industries’ leading brands and retailers. A recognized expert on the sports industry, he is frequently quoted in the media.

Matt has a B.A. in Sociology from Colby College in Waterville, Maine.


Recent Posts

Jun 13, 2018
Sports

Sneakernomics: Team Sports Equipment Recap

The February through April 2018 period (compared to the same three month timeframe in 2017) was a solid one for the U.S. team sports equipment industry. Sales grew in the mid-single digits, as the...

May 31, 2018
Sports

Sneakernomics: The State of the U.S. Activewear Market

Activewear sales in the U.S. from February through April 2018 were essentially flat, as the proliferation of fashion brands emulating performance wear continues to take its toll. Women’s activewea...

May 31, 2018
Sports

Sneakernomics: The State of the U.S. Athletic Footwear Market

The sports retail environment continues to be challenged in the U.S., as sales have essentially flatlined since the banner year of 2015. Athletic footwear dollar sales from February through April ...

May 21, 2018
Sports

Sneakernomics: Legalized Gambling and Sports Retail

The recent decision by the Supreme Court of the United States which allows states to regulate gambling on sports will have an impact on the sports retail business. The leagues in the U.S. are const...

May 10, 2018
Sports

Sneakernomics: Social Responsibility in Sports Retail

For some time now, there has been an investment approach around environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards. Studies have shown investing in companies that score highly on these character...

May 2, 2018
Sports

Sneakernomics: Managing the Marketplace

One of the most difficult tasks in sports retail is managing the marketplace, especially with hot items. Brands that do this effectively have a steadier growth pattern and higher profits. A retail...

Apr 12, 2018
Sports

Sneakernomics: Are You Experienced?

A lot has been written about improving the customer “experience” in sports retail. No one would argue the importance of great customer experience. But experience can mean different things to diffe...

Apr 3, 2018
Sports

Sneakernomics: Team Sports Equipment Year in Review

Overall for 2017, U.S. team sports equipment sales declined in the single digits, but below the surface it was a mixed bag, with notable pockets of growth. Baseball equipment sales for the full 1...

Mar 15, 2018
Sports , Beauty

Sneakernomics: What the Sports Industry Can Learn from Beauty

Of the 20+ industries NPD tracks, one of the fastest growing in 2017 was the beauty industry. Sales in the U.S. were up a robust 6 percent compared the tepid, low single-digit growth in the sports ind...

Feb 27, 2018
Sports

Sneakernomics: Sports Retail in the Internet Age, Part 2

In my previous blog, I wrote about the ways in which retailers can revolutionize the in-store environment to survive the internet age. Shopping must be an experience for today’s consumer, but each...

Feb 23, 2018
Sports

Sneakernomics: Sports Retail in the Internet Age, Part 1

In 2017, growth in the U.S. athletic footwear and activewear markets meagerly improved. While sales in physical stores declined, online sales grew in the high single-digits. We can expect this pat...

Jan 30, 2018
Retail , Sports

Sneakernomics: State of the Outdoor Retail Industry

Like the rest of the sports world, the U.S. outdoor retail business was challenged in 2017. For the 12 months ending November 2017, sales declined in the mid-single digits. The void created by The...

Jan 23, 2018
Sports

Sneakernomics: Solutions for the Sports Retail Industry

In my annual predictions here, I explained why 2018 is positioned to be another mediocre year for the U.S. sports industry, as it is following in the footsteps of the tepid sales growth, heavy pro...

Jan 18, 2018
Sports

Sneakernomics: The Golf Business Remains Challenged

The golf retail market in the U.S. remains challenged, largely impacted by the fact that Millennials are not picking up the game at the rate that Boomers are aging out of it. As I wrote about here...

Jan 9, 2018
Sports

Sneakernomics: Sports Retail Predictions for 2018

On the surface, the 2017 results for the U.S. sports industry appear to be below average, but not a disaster. When we understand that it was an extraordinarily promotional environment that drove t...

Dec 12, 2017
Sports

What the Sports Business Can Learn from the Toy Business

The New York Times published a fascinating article a couple days ago on WowWee Brand’s Fingerlings toy, one of the hottest toys of the holiday season. In it, I found several interesting lessons fo...

Dec 5, 2017
Sports

Sneakernomics: Retail Should be Omnipresent, not Omnichannel

I’ve never liked the term “omnichannel” to describe the new sports retail environment. To me, this is looking at the business from an old school, logistics-driven point of view.  What we need in ...

Sneakernomics: “Surprise and Delight”

A wise man once told me that a retailer’s first responsibility is to “surprise and delight” their customers. Boy, does it feel like we’ve lost that thread. Shopping has never felt more joyless. ...

Nov 28, 2017
Sports

Sneakernomics: Black Friday 2017

As expected, Black Friday 2017 was marked by broader and deeper discounts than last year. Promotions started earlier than last year as well. Most Black Friday deals were available before Thanksgiv...

Nov 15, 2017
Sports

Sneakernomics: The Private Brand Defense

This is turning out to be the most promotional year in U.S. sports retail that I have ever seen. Having too much of the wrong inventory forces brands to loosen the reins on minimum advertised pric...

Nov 7, 2017
Sports

Sneakernomics: Third Quarter Sales Results for U.S. Athletic Footwear and Apparel

After an unseasonably warm and very promotional September, the U.S. athletic footwear market eked out a gain in the third quarter of 2017, with dollar sales up 2 percent. Overall, women’s athletic...

Oct 30, 2017
Sports

Sneakernomics: Holiday 2017 Outlook for the Sports Industry

Pun intended, the holiday season is “the most wonderful time of the year” for all the major industries it touches yet, at some point in time, chances are each will be struck by a double-edged swor...

Sep 29, 2017
Sports

Sneakernomics: The Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs

In one of Aesop’s Fables, “The Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs,” a farmer owns a goose that lays a golden egg every day. The farmer assumes that the goose must have a huge amount of gold inside it. Th...

Sep 12, 2017
Sports

Sneakernomics: What Sports Retail Can Learn from Fast Fashion

Given this current malaise in the U.S. sports business, it is important for the industry to look across the retail landscape for ideas on how to improve its current condition. The world of fast fa...

Sep 5, 2017
Sports

Sneakernomics: Small is the New Big

In a recent blog post, The Future Looks PUNY, I outlined that many of the success stories amidst today’s retail malaise have centered on the ideas of Premium, Unique, New and Young (PUNY). These n...

Aug 30, 2017
Sports

Sneakernomics: What the Nike Amazon Deal really means for the Sports Industry

A lot has been written about the “pilot program” that Nike agreed to sell direct to Amazon, much of it filled with misconceptions and errors. Let’s try to set the record straight. Probably the gre...

Aug 21, 2017
Sports

Sneakernomics: No, Athleisure is not Dead

With the disappointing quarterly results from some of the major sports retailers, there has been a renewed cry that the athleisure trend is over. While recent results for athleisure have been chal...

Aug 14, 2017
Sports

Sneakernomics: Second Quarter Performance for the U.S. Athletic Footwear and Activewear Markets

The calendar was kinder to the second quarter than the first, but challenges still remain in the athletic footwear and activewear space. While the overall Q2 sales trend (April-June) in athletic...

Aug 14, 2017
Sports

Sneakernomics: Second Quarter Performance for the U.S. Athletic Footwear and Activewear Markets

The calendar was kinder to the second quarter than the first, but challenges still remain in the athletic footwear and activewear space. While the overall Q2 sales trend (April-June) in athletic f...

Jul 25, 2017
Sports

Sneakernomics: The State of the Outdoor Business

The overall state of the U.S. outdoor business has not been very good. According to data from NPD’s Retail Tracking Service, dollar sales are down year-to-date through May 2017 compared to the sam...

Jul 17, 2017
Sports

Sneakernomics: The Future Looks PUNY!

There has certainly been a lot of bad news for the U.S. sports industry recently. We cited the dramatic slowdown in the sneaker purchases by Hispanics, as well as a pessimistic prediction for back...

Jul 10, 2017
Sports

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

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 y...

Jun 26, 2017
Sports

Sneakernomics: Hispanics’ Sneaker Slowdown

U.S. athletic footwear sales have been a puzzle this spring. While I accurately predicted the weakness due to the late income tax refunds and late Easter, the expected bounce-back simply did not h...

Jun 15, 2017
Sports

Sneakernomics: Fall Sports Recap

Earlier this month, I wrote about the slow start to the spring sports season. Looking at the traditional fall season sports, including soccer, American football and basketball, I am expecting sale...

Jun 7, 2017
Sports

Sneakernomics: Spring Sports Have Not Yet Sprung

Unconventional springtime weather that’s more akin to the late fall season is having a dampening effect on U.S. team sports equipment sales. With the recent expansion of The NPD Group’s Retail Trackin...

May 30, 2017
Sports

Sneakernomics: Golf Sales in Decline

As I wrote about here, the macro environment for golf is pretty unpleasant. Courses are closing, brands are shuttering, retailers are going out of business, and young people are not adopting the g...

May 18, 2017
Sports

Sneakernomics: The U.S. Team Sports Equipment Marketplace

This week, NPD reached another important milestone with the launch of its team sports equipment tracking service: we now provide the most comprehensive reporting available on the entire universe o...

May 8, 2017
Sports , Footwear

Sneakernomics: Here Comes Gen Z, Part 2

In a recent blog I highlighted some of the major differences between Millennials and Generation Z. I get a lot of questions on how to understand the profile and values of Gen Z, and for brands and...

May 3, 2017
Sports , Footwear

Sneakernomics: Why Q1 Did Not Bode Well for U.S. Athletic Footwear Sales

Contrary to the positive overall results we saw in the first quarter of 2015 and 2016, Q1 was a mixed bag that left the total U.S. athletic footwear market down 3 percent for the first three month...

May 1, 2017
Sports

Sneakernomics: Here Comes Gen Z, Part 1

I’ve written a lot about Millennials, but there is another cohort, Generation Z, that’s just as large in both scope and influence. While there are similarities between the two, they are distinct e...

Mar 15, 2017
Sports

Sneakernomics: Marketing with Millennials, Part 2

How can brands and retailers better resonate with Millennials, who hold tremendous influence now and in the future? It starts not with knowing, but understanding them. Millennials are focused on ...

Mar 7, 2017
Sports

Sneakernomics: Marketing with Millennials, Part 1

Brands used to market to Boomers; successful brands today market with Millennials. Millennials, or the generation born between 1981 and 1996, are now a larger group than the Boomers, who were bor...

Feb 23, 2017
Sports

Sneakernomics: How Golf Lost the Millennials

2016 was not kind to the golf industry. Nike announced it was exiting the equipment business, Golfsmith went bankrupt and shuttered, hundreds of golf courses closed, and Ben Hogan filed for bankru...

Feb 14, 2017
Sports

Sneakernomics: Tax Refund Delays Can Hurt the Sports Business

In 2015 Congress passed the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act. One of the main provisions of PATH was to slow down taxpayer refunds for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and/or the ...

Feb 7, 2017
Sports

Sneakernomics: Sports is Catching the Disease that’s Killing Retail

My colleague Marshal Cohen recently wrote a blog, “An Urgent Message for Retail,” and in it he states that during the holiday season, “…consumers appeared to have grown numb to the early and const...

Jan 26, 2017
Sports

Sneakernomics: Are Sneakerheads Important?

About every month or so, someone in the mainstream media will “discover” that sneakerheads exist. They often seek me out to ask what drives this phenomenon and what their value is to the market. A...

Jan 17, 2017
Sports

Sneakernomics: Hispanics and the Sports Business

The National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA) recently published a study entitled, “Scouting the Hispanic Market,” which explores the opportunities around Hispanics and the sports business. Multi...

Jan 11, 2017
Sports

Sneakernomics: The State of the Outdoor Industry

It was a rocky year for the outdoor industry. The void created by the bankruptcies of Sport Chalet and The Sports Authority had a huge impact on the industry, and the warm weather did not help. But an...

Jan 4, 2017
Sports

Sneakernomics: On the Contrary, Innovation is Abundant in the Sneaker World

I mentioned in my 2017 predictions blog that stock market analysts have criticized major sneaker brands including Nike, by saying that the footwear market lacks innovation. Nothing could be furthe...

Sneakernomics: Predictions for the Sports Business in 2017

It’s the end of another fascinating year for the U.S. sports business, so that means predictions time! But before we get into that, let’s set the stage by recapping how we did on our 2016 predicti...

Dec 14, 2016
Sports

Sneakernomics: The Sales Void Created by The Sports Authority

When The Sports Authority (TSA) filed for bankruptcy last spring, it was the largest failure we had ever seen in the sports industry. The overleveraged TSA represented about 20 million square feet...

Dec 13, 2016
Sports , Footwear

Sneakernomics: NYC Adidas Store Raises the Bar for Sneaker Retail

Adidas has opened its largest store in the world on Fifth Avenue in New York City and it is amazing. On the morning of the grand opening, my phone started to light up with messages saying there we...

Dec 5, 2016
Sports , Footwear

Sneakernomics: It’s All About Retro

The hottest trend in the U.S. athletic shoe market right now is classic, or retro, footwear. The overall classics category is growing at a +29 percent pace for 2016 so far through October, accordi...

Nov 29, 2016
Sports , Footwear

Sneakernomics: Holiday Predictions for the Sports Industry 2016

Last holiday season was a particularly strong one for many major aspects of the sports business. There are several factors making this year’s challenging for the industry, but while this year won’...

Sneakernomics: The State of the Athletic Footwear and Apparel Businesses Heading into Holiday

U.S. athletic footwear results in Q3 were softer than they were in the first two quarters of the year, with dollar sales growing by only 2 percent for the quarter, compared to the mid-single digits fo...

Sneakernomics: Fast is the New Normal

Everything seems faster today. Change is happening more quickly than ever, and nowhere is this need for speed more evident than in the sports industry. Let’s examine the impact. One of the greates...

Sneakernomics: The Election’s Potential Impact on Footwear Sales

Donald Trump shocked the world on Tuesday night with his presidential win. His victory could have deep implications for the sports industry, and the footwear market in particular. In Trump’s nomi...

Nov 4, 2016
Apparel , Sports

Sneakernomics: Cubs Win! Who Else Does?

Now that the Chicago Cubs’ 108-year winless drought has ended and the curse of the Billy Goat named Murphy has been extinguished, let’s see who the sports winners (besides the Chicago Cubs) are. W...

Oct 3, 2016
Apparel , Sports

Sneakernomics: Is Activewear Being Stretched Too Thin?

There have been many words written recently about the potential demise of activewear, but nothing could be further from the truth. Let’s take a look at what is really happening in this space. Deni...

Aug 15, 2016
Sports

What Q2 Sales Results Mean to the Athletic Footwear Industry

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...

What Q2 Sales Results Mean to the Athletic Footwear Industry

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...

Jul 8, 2016
Sports

Sneakernomics: What Kevin Durant to the Warriors Really Means for the Sneaker Business

There has been a ton of breathless analysis about the impact of Kevin Durant’s move from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Golden State Warriors and that move’s impact on the sneaker business. The ...

Jun 6, 2016
Sports

What’s Really Happening In The U.S. Sneaker Business

According to NPD, which represents the most comprehensive roster of reporting retailers, comprising more than 50 percent of the U.S. retail athletic shoe market, sales of athletic footwear in the U.S....

Apr 21, 2016
Sports

Ads On NBA Jerseys Coming Soon

As far back as 2009, the NBA hinted that it would follow in the footsteps of other international professional leagues and display advertisements on players’ jerseys. We saw a touch of this during the ...

Apr 4, 2016
Sports

What’s Going On With Golf?

Athletes today are viewed not only as heroes on the field, but as cultural and fashion icons to the American people. We live in a culture where they are revered more than just feet on the playing fiel...

Apr 1, 2016
Sports

Winning Women Over Through Sports Marketing

The athletic and outdoor industries have traditionally been “guy” industries, illustrated by the fact that most of the executive boards and management teams of major companies in this space fall short...

Mar 16, 2016
Sports

Let The Madness Begin

College basketball fans around the country are rejoicing; NCAA March Madness 2016 has begun. In addition to being one of the biggest U.S. sporting events of the year behind the Super Bowl, March Madne...

Feb 17, 2016
Sports

A Fresh Spin On Fitness

Social and digital fitness trends are having a profound impact on the sports industry. The growing popularity and emergence of programs and events such as CrossFit and The Color Run show that the cons...

Nov 27, 2015
Sports

Black Friday 2015 In The Sports Business

After a morning of retail reconnaissance, this is what Black Friday looks like in the Sports industry. Sports retailers began to send out Black Friday offers as early as the first week of November, w...

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.