The NPD Group is the industry authority for the footwear market. Leading brands, specialty retailers, Wall Street analysts, and the media rely on our data of record and unique perspective.
Our comprehensive information and analysis about consumer spending and shopping behavior, analytics and modeling capabilities, Checkout receipt-harvesting, and other solutions drive better business decisions.
From opportunity identification to program evaluation, uncovering competitive threats to boosting market share, The NPD Group knows the “steps” you need to take to succeed.
The NPD Group has the largest POS footprint in the industry. We collect weekly and monthly sales data from over 30,000 doors globally, spanning all industry channels of distribution, including independent specialty stores, sport specialty stores, sporting goods, department stores, mass merchants, and e-commerce. This allows you to continuously monitor sales of men’s, women’s, and children’s sports apparel, footwear, equipment, and accessories.
The Retail Tracking Service delivers the most detailed point-of-sale information available to guide your critical business decisions. Standard measures available at the category, brand, and item levels include unit sales/share, dollar sales/share, and average selling price. Advanced measures available for specialty channels include inventory, margins, and GMROI.
Stay on top of shifting preferences and trends with insights from consumer panelists who have agreed to provide information about their purchasing habits, usage, and attitudes. You can use this information to analyze consumer behavior, preferences, and purchase drivers as input for product development, brand management, and marketing strategies.
Athletic and Outdoor Segmentation
Identify and reach specific consumer groups so you can efficiently target and capture your most valuable consumers. Use our athletic and Outdoor Segmentation to drive more sales using targeted messaging. It also can help you refine your merchandising mix and assortment once you understand the differences among key consumer segments. Seven athletic segments and four outdoor segments are included.
Geo Level Information
Assess regional strengths and opportunities, monitor competitive performance by region, and plan and evaluate effectiveness of targeted activities. Call on our insight into retail sales in specific regions or store groupings using Geo Level information from our Retail Tracking Service.
Checkout delivers the most comprehensive view of consumer purchase behavior for general merchandise categories, across all retailers over time, to help you understand how to adjust your marketing to fuel growth. Checkout E-commerce offers the most complete and accurate view of the online channel – including first and third-party sales for Amazon and other marketplaces, 400+ e-commerce retailers including direct-to-consumer, and an early read on emerging players.
NPD’s Analytic Solutions group includes senior leaders with extensive experience developing and delivering analytic solutions that help clients predict areas of risk and growth to improve marketing and product development. By combining NPD’s unique data assets and industry expertise with state-of-the-discipline research techniques and proprietary solutions, our Analytic Solutions team is able to answer clients’ most pressing business questions.
Women’s Jeans Sales Are Up in the U.S. Proving That Athleisure Wear and Denim Do Co-Exist in the Same Wardrobe
The U.S. footwear industry grew by 7 percent in the first half of 2018. Growth was driven by gains in casual footwear and online shopping. Social responsibility and sustainability awareness is also providing additional opportunities for the industry.
Leisure Sneakers Lead U.S. Footwear Sales Gains, with Added Boost from Other Comfort-Oriented Styles
Comfort is in style year-round as leisure sneakers dominate U.S. footwear sales gains. Other growing styles include sports and fashion slides, strappy sandals and mules/clogs.
The U.S. athletic footwear industry grew by 2 percent in 2017, generating $19.6 billion in sales, according to global information company The NPD Group. Unit sales also grew by 2 percent and average selling price remained flat, at $58.16.
The three key components of the $334 billion retail fashion segment, apparel, footwear, and fashion accessories, are each in different positions when it comes to the business, according to leading global information company The NPD Group. The apparel industry, which represents 65 percent of total U.S. retail fashion dollar sales and spans everything from basics to jeans, continues to enjoy the consistent growth experienced over the past few years. Conversely, the more trend-driven footwear and fashion accessories industries are now experiencing sales declines, keeping overall retail fashion sales in the 12 months ending February 2017 even with results from the prior year.
Travel retail is booming. Airport traffic grew 8% globally over the last year, and that growth is predicted to continue, averaging +8% annually through 2026.
Many footwear brands are struggling in today’s changing retail environment, offering others a chance to capture market share. Are you taking advantage?
The U.S. fashion industry is rapidly changing. At the same time, a flurry of factors – including shifts in consumer shopping behavior, retail closures, new celebrity influencers, and today’s macro trends – are having an impact on consumer spending. Here’s a look at 5 fashion trends we’re watching right now.
Many footwear brands are struggling in today’s changing retail environment, offering others a chance to capture market share. Are you taking advantage?
The back-to-school season now includes more options for the consumer than ever before. We took a look at how U.S. consumers shopped for back-to-school products in 2017 to help you plan for the 2018 season.
The back-to-school season isn't about one-stop shopping anymore. Find out what it is about these days.
Our client, a footwear manufacturer, wanted to win floor space for a premium product designed exclusively for a major retailer. The manufacturer needed to prove to the retailer that the return on the new product would be worth the incremental spend. Our client turned to us to build a compelling case.
The back-to-school season is the second largest retail shopping season. To gauge what’s to come this year, we looked back on last year’s back-to-school shopping behavior
Identifying top-selling and fast-growing styles is key to your success in today's competitive U.S. independent footwear market. Go to the source for ongoing insight that details exactly what's happening in the independent shoe channel and how it relates to your market. Identifying top-selling and fast-growing styles is key to your success in today's competitive U.S. independent footwear market. Go to the source for ongoing insight that details exactly what's happening in the independent shoe channel and how it relates to your market.
Want to make killer products people love? If so, you need to distinguish the winning ideas from the losers, move fast to keep ahead of trends, and prepare yourself for the possibility of a hot category’s decline.
Insights and Opinions from our Analysts and Experts
There are plenty of examples of people talking at length about how today’s young consumer demands that brands take visible stands on social issues. Renowned author Simon Sinek said it best: “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”
But how does a brand decide which causes to support and what position to take? I believe that brands (and retailers) must look inside themselves and discover what their purpose is; they need to answer the “why they do it” question.
There is a relatively new movement afoot called “purpose-driven brands,” when brands and retailers connect their purpose with the purpose of their consumers. A purpose-driven brand consciously conducts its business according to its purpose.
Customers want to know what a brand stands for and what motivates their decisions. Consumers want brands to align with their values.
Of all the industries that adopted this common sense approach to marketing, the Sports and Recreation industry was arguably one of the first to target the purpose-driven consumer.
So many examples come to mind. Some companies appeal to a larger consumer market simply by focusing on their core customer; Carhartt’s hardworking apparel for hardworking men and women, and Yeti’s outdoor coolers for serious outdoor enthusiasts come to mind. Other companies market themselves as environmentally-friendly, charitable, or take an all-encompassing approach. Patagonia has been a purpose-driven company since the beginning; its stated mission: “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”
Merrell has two sections on its website pertaining to purpose. One is “What Matters Most,” and the other is, “Causes We Support.”
VF Corporation (owners of Vans, The North Face, and Timberland) positions itself as a “Purpose-led, performance-driven and value-creating organization,” striving to “improve people’s lives and make the world a better place.” From its corporate website: “We don’t just make the world’s best apparel and footwear; we power movements of sustainable and active lifestyles for the betterment of people and our planet. This is our Purpose. It’s why we come to work every day.”
These types of purpose statements inform every company’s decision and initiative. Consumers have a clear view of what drives these brands.
Once a brand or retailer has created their purpose, they then need to communicate that purpose clearly and consistently both inside and outside the company. And, more importantly, they need to act on these principles every day. Brands can use their purpose in marketing to communicate to the public. A brand’s purpose builds a relationship with the community.
Brands and retailers must look beyond their basic functions to discover their true purpose – they should look inside to discover “The right thing to do.” The products that are made and sold must reflect the purpose of the company. In short, brands must walk the walk. It’s not enough to just say that a brand supports a cause; every company action must reflect their purpose.
Consumers’ purchases will continue to be driven by their values. Successful purpose-driven brands will reflect and act on those values.
The Millennial and Gen Z consumers have been quite clear. They want to know where their brands and retailers stand on important social issues, and are willing to take their business elsewhere if those positions do not align with their own.
One of the most important causes for today’s younger generations is stopping climate change through sustainable consumption. A recent NPD study found that young U.S. consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable products. But are sports brands doing enough here?
The outdoor industry has always been at the forefront of protecting and preserving the environment. But, I think the outdoor industry has taken this position for granted. I believe the industry needs to tell the consumer all the things they do on a daily basis to end climate change, as well as the work that must continue.
I believe one of the many reasons for Patagonia’s current success is the very vocal and powerful stand they have taken on environmental issues. Other brands in the space can follow this lead. The stories are there. We just need to do a better job of telling those stories.
One area where the outdoor industry has fallen short is in diversity and inclusiveness. Outdoor brands and retailers are leaving business on the table by underserving minority groups and the everyday consumer. A big part of the current industry malaise is this inability to move away from only addressing the core.
The athletic side of the sports business has quietly been doing very good work on sustainability, but they have been far too quiet.
Brands have focused on new manufacturing techniques that create less waste and use less harmful bonding materials. Adidas’s Parley collection, which uses recycled plastic ocean waste, is a great example of the kind of work that is being done. But as we saw in the outdoor industry, brands are not telling the story well enough. Athletic retailers have virtually been left out of the conversation.
Diversity remains another opportunity for the athletic industry. All workers in the sports industry product chain must be paid a fair wage and work in safe conditions. Doing something this obvious will result in a significant upside for manufacturers and retailers that honor the quality of the work environment for female employees.
Much good work has been done in the sports retail business, but there is so much more to do. And as an industry, we can do a better job of telling these stories.
Back-to-School 2018 is a little more than half over and the results thus far, as I anticipated, have been rather disappointing. Looking at weekly sales data from June 3 through July 28, 2018 compared to the same period a year ago, athletic footwear dollar sales in the U.S. were essentially flat.
The sport lifestyle category has slowed given some weakness in retro basketball, but sales nonetheless grew in the mid-single digits.
The performance shoe categories all continued to struggle. Performance running (even with all the new initiatives) was down in the mid-single digits. Performance basketball sales declined as did training and hiking footwear. There does not appear to be a turn for ‘performance as fashion’ in the near term.
Sport slides have been a popular seller and were up in the low teens. Skate shoes grew by nearly half, driven by robust demand for Vans. What I have expected to be a hot brand this back-to-school season, Vans overall sales grew by more than three quarters during these weeks. NPD’s Checkout, a receipt mining service, has uncovered some interesting findings around the brand. In the last 12 months, the size of Vans’ in-store customer base has held relatively steady versus last year, but their customers are making more purchases; the proportion of in-store Vans buyers who have purchased two or more pairs has increased by almost 20 percent versus a year ago.
Looking at other brand highlights, Nike brand grew in the low single digits, though it was not enough to offset Nike Inc. declines. Adidas’s mid-teens gains were well off its previous torrid pace, though the brand continues to take share in the U.S. Brooks improved by a third. Skechers athletic shoes posted a slight decline, while ASICS saw sales fall in the high teens. Timberland and Columbia grew in sales, while Merrell and Keen declined.
Fila and Puma both had nice increases for the period. “Small as the new big” is an important theme for Back-to-School 2018.
Given these results, I expect this back-to-school season to be as promotional as last year, if not more so, putting pressure on margins. I also expect e-commerce to outpace sales growth in physical stores, as online becomes more and more important to the total.
Looking ahead, I expect these modest results to continue for the balance of the year. Whatever energy we see in athletic footwear will come from the smaller brands.
Source: The NPD Group/ Retail Tracking Service, 8 weeks ending July 28, 2018
The second quarter of 2018 (April-June) was not great for the U.S. team sports equipment industry, compared to the same three months in 2017. Sales were essentially flat for the quarter, as the new baseball bat regulations that drove baseball sales growth in Q1 had pretty much played out. Baseball sales in Q2 actually declined in the low single-digits. The gains it experienced during Q1 will be difficult to offset next year.
Though a slowdown of sales growth compared to the low teens increase during Q1, golf equipment still performed well, as more Boomers retire every day, with sales up in the mid-singles. Golf club sales grew in the mid-singles, indicating new entrants, while ball sales only grew in the high singles, likely dampened by the decline in golf rounds played in April and June.
April posted the coldest temperatures in two decades, which put a damper on spring sports.
Soccer equipment sales improved due to interest in the World Cup. Historically, these sales trends do not carry forward.
Q2 basketball equipment sales declined in the mid-teens, in line with the weak basketball shoe sales trend.
Looking at team sports equipment brands, Callaway grew by a quarter, taking share from those who have exited the golf business. TaylorMade sales were flat, and Titleist grew in the high teens.
Rawlings grew in the high teens and Easton posted a decline, as did Spalding and Wilson. Nike equipment declined by more than a third, while Adidas improved by about 25 percent.
With reported participation rates continuing to fall, we can expect no real growth in team equipment for the balance of 2018.
Two events happened recently that highlight the dilemma that sports markets face.
Last week, LeBron James emerged from the “Decision Cave” and announced that he was taking his talents to LA. Then, Roger Federer agreed to be paid $30 million per year for 10 years to endorse Japanese retailer Uniqlo.
Many have assumed that LeBron’s change would somehow benefit sales, but in my opinion this is not the case. Yes, a lot of Lakers “number 23” jerseys will be sold, but there are thousands and thousands of Cleveland 23’s still left in inventory. These jerseys started at 50 percent off two weeks ago. Today, they are merely historic artifacts that could take years to clear.
I do not expect to see a big lift in basketball shoe sales either. When Kobe Bryant was at the height of his game, he had the top-selling jersey in the NBA, but he never sold a lot of shoes in the U.S. Los Angeles is more of a flip-flop market than basketball shoe market. Given the lead times in the sneaker industry, it will take many months to have LeBron shoes in Laker colors. And even then, there will be little appetite; performance basketball shoes remain solidly out of fashion in the U.S.
As a side note, it is important to point out that Kobe’s shoes sold in much greater quantities in China than they did in the U.S. However, LeBron has never been that popular a player in China. If U.S. basketball goes out of fashion with Chinese consumers who follow the sport, brands will surely struggle in China.
Turning to tennis, Federer played his first match at Wimbledon in Uniqlo apparel. It was announced that he would be paid for 10 years, regardless of whether he played tennis or not.
Tennis players earn amazing endorsement deals even as participation has stagnated. Their appeal is more to the ultra-wealthy than it is to the average consumer. Teen consumers are not even in the picture.
I’m in London as I write this, surrounded by fans of Fedo. Some might be interested in what he wears or which liquor he drinks, but none of these folks appear to have set foot in a mall, let alone a fast fashion retailer.
What we are realizing is that the paid endorser model is simply broken. Fans know that athletes and celebrities are paid to wear products, and only wear them because they are paid. Celebrities’ relationships with brands are based on compensation, and not on any true emotional attachments.
Consumers have begun to realize how phony these pay-to-wear deals are. Celebrities have not loyalty to brands, or fans. They simply will endorse whatever they are paid to wear.
The sports industry needs to return to the days of authentic and honest endorsement, where the relationship is guided by passion and emotion, not by big paychecks.
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 new baseball bat regulations drove baseball sales growth in the mid-teens. Composite bats improved by nearly half and pulled all the other categories up with it. These gains will be difficult to offset next year.
In composite bats, Rawlings more than doubled sales. Louisville Slugger grew in the high teens while DeMarini had a decline. Market share leader Easton grew by more than half.
Golf equipment also performed well, likely driven by the peak in Baby Boomer retirements, with sales up in the low teens. Golf club sales grew in the low teens, indicating new entrants, while ball sales only grew in the high singles, likely dampened by the decline in golf rounds played in April.
April posted the coldest temperatures in two decades, which put a damper on spring sports (with the exception of baseball). Soccer equipment sales were flat, while lacrosse had a mid-single digit decline. Field hockey had a surprising mid-teens increase. Tennis declined in the low singles.
Basketball equipment sales declined in the low teens, in line with weak basketball shoe sales.
Combat and wrestling-related sales grew in the low teens.
Protective gear, a standout category in 2017, slowed to a low single-digit increase.
Looking at team sports equipment brands, Callaway grew by a third, taking share from those who have exited the golf business. TaylorMade grew in the high singles, and Titleist in the high teens.
Rawlings grew by nearly a third and Easton by nearly half.
Spalding and Wilson both posted declines.
My expectation is that golf sales will flatten out as we move through the year, and baseball will hold up until the new bats are replaced, while the rest of team sports equipment market will be challenged.
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 activewear sales declined in the low single-digits, with particular weakness in active bottoms and bras. Kids’ activewear was flat, while the men’s market was a bright spot – sales grew in the low singles driven by sweatshirts and active bottoms.
As we saw in footwear, premium department stores grew in the mid-teens, while mid-tier grew in the mid singles. Athletic specialty/sporting goods had a low single digit decline. Department stores now capture more activewear sales than the true sports channels.
Sales of activewear bottoms, the largest category, were flat, as weakness in women’s offset gains in men’s. Sweatshirts improved in the low teens while outerwear tops grew in the mid-singles.
Knit shirts and socks declined in the low singles, as did bras. Swimwear got off to a slow start with a low single-digit decline.
The aggregation of all retailers’ private brands was again the largest “brand” and grew a whopping 20 percent during these three months. Retailers will continue to seek refuge here from the highly promotional environment.
Nike brand had a mid-single digit increase, while Under Armour posted a low teens decline. adidas activewear sales grew more than 40 percent.
Hanes grew while Fruit of the Loom declined. Champion had a 40 percent sales increase.
Columbia saw a decline while The North face improved in the low singles. Patagonia had an outstanding performance, with sales up about half.
Source: The NPD Group/ Retail Tracking Service, February-April 2018
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 2018 grew in the low single-digits, with unit sales also up in the low singles and average selling price flat. Two factors drove the increase; first, February had a very easy comparison as February 2017 had the worst performance in all the years I’ve been doing research on the industry. Second, the 53rd week fiscal shift replaced a small week in 2017 with a larger one. My expectations remain muted for the rest of the year.
Women’s athletic footwear led the wearer segments, with sales up in the high single-digits. adidas, Brooks, and Vans had strong increases in the women’s market, while Nike and Under Armour both posted declines. I expect that women’s athletic footwear will continue to outpace men’s and kids (both these segments grew in the low singles).
The premium department store channel grew its sales in the mid-teens, while shoe chains improved in the high singles. Mid-tier department stores increased in the mid-singles while athletic specialty/sporting goods had a decline. All of the energy is happening in the department stores today as the athleisure trend remains in full force.
Sport lifestyle, the largest athletic footwear category, grew in the high single digits. Nike and adidas grew in the mid-teens while Brand Jordan and Converse posted declines. Skate improved by more than 40 percent, as Vans grew by half. Sport slides grew more than 20 percent. Again, the athleisure trend is driving these categories.
We are soon to begin the fourth year of soft sales for performance footwear. Performance basketball declined in the mid-singles, even as Nike basketball grew. Considering how much marketing dollars brands devoted to the performance category beginning this year, this result is disappointing. Performance running declined in the mid-singles as new initiatives from many brands did not move the needle, but Brooks continues to stand out as a top performer in running. Training and hiking footwear sales also declined, as the trend away from “performance as fashion” continued.
Nike brand sales grew in the low singles thanks to solid growth in the sport lifestyle category, though performance running struggled. Converse sales were down in the mid-teens. adidas had a mid-teens sales gain. Its trend has definitely cooled from the torrid pace of the last two years. Skechers athletic grew in the mid-singles. Under Armour and Asics both posted declines, while Brooks and Vans had strong increases. Non-core sneaker brands like Steve Madden, Ecco, Roxy, and UGG all had nice increases. Again, the athleisure trend is carrying these brands.
Looking at the top-selling items based on dollar sales, none of these shoes are true performance products, again illustrating the fashion shift away from performance. For the first time in many months, no adidas shoes made the top ten list, as adidas continues to diversify its portfolio. The top sellers were: Nike Tanjun, Jordan XI Low, Jordan 1 High OG, Nike Air Max 270, Nike Air Huarache, Converse All Star Low, Nike Revolution 4, Jordan IX Mid, Nike Air Force 1 Low, and Nike Flex Contact.
Source: The NPD Group/ Retail Tracking Service, February-April 2018
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 constantly searching for new revenue streams. The big cash cow, TV rights, has likely reached its peak as some leagues have seen viewership fall in favor of much less lucrative social media platforms.
The last two major unrealized revenue streams for the leagues are legalized gambling and ads on jerseys. We have seen the NBA successfully introduce ads on jerseys. No one was smote from above. Over time, I expect ads on jerseys will be an even greater thing, as the ads take over a larger amount of the jersey. Sleeves will return as that will allow more space for ads. The big money has yet to flow, but it will. Global soccer shows potential here.
My belief is that leagues will support gambling on games as long as they get a cut. I expect several states will quickly enact gambling statutes in time for the NFL season this fall. Look for one of the states that has already voted for gambling to take the lead here and create a template for others.
There will likely be great hue and cry over the morality of gambling, but states are as strapped for new sources of revenue just as leagues are. Gambling will come with fancy trappings, but it will come. (As a local wag once told me while standing in front of a New Orleans casino: “We don’t have gambling here; we have gaming.”)
Las Vegas takes a hit here as bettors will no longer have to travel there to wager. We can expect the sin in “Sin City” to expand to offset these losses.
It will be fun to watch the fantasy leagues (who have long claimed fantasy was not gambling) try to get a piece of this business.
The NBA will take the lead here as the NFL dithers about “integrity” issues. Maybe the NFL can use these proceeds to pay off the CTE claims. I love the idea that the leagues will support “integrity fees” and get their cut of the bets. Leagues will likely charge for “league sanctioned data and content” as another way to grab some revenue.
Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, said “everybody who owns a top-four professional sports team just basically saw the value of their team double, at least.”
Legalized gambling may be the final lever to get the NCAA to pay its indentured servants who bring in vast amounts of income to the coaches, athletic directors, and schools.
I’m also looking forward to the time when Paddy Power Betfair is a household name.
Marginal teams and marginal players will get a lift here as they make great betting targets, much like we have seen in fantasy sports. It remains to be seen if legalized betting creates an increase in fan wear worn as streetwear.
In addition to the sports retail environment, it will be interesting to observe how this decision will impact sports ratings, which I expect will go up.
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 characteristics outperform the market. The indexes used measure environmental uses and policies, corporate diversity, racial and gender diversification among executives and governing bodies, as well as human rights policies. Companies with a high score on sustainability and ethical performance tend to outperform those with low scores.
This concept of ESG is spilling over into consumer behavior, driven by Gen Z. Sports retailers and brands must pay attention to this critical change.
Gen Z is the most connected generation. They have never known a world without a smartphone. Consequently, they rely on social media for connection, communication, and commerce. They are likely to use social media to seek the opinions of their peers, not just on what is in fashion but to learn about the ethics of the brands and retailers they are considering.
They are also the most diverse generation, meaning it’s likely that as Gen Z consumers get older, they will gravitate towards brands and retailers that are more diverse, and will be more likely to withhold their business from those that are not.
Gen Z is progressive and political. They will not sit idly and hope that circumstances change. This generation is one that will likely push for change and respond more positively to those brands and retailers that follow suit.
As a generation that is out to change the world, Gen Z demands that brands take visible stands on social issues like diversity. According to a recent Forbes article, human rights is the primary cause for Gen Z, and equality is non-negotiable. Brands can no longer claim to be apolitical, and what they stand for must be transparent. If Gen Z disagrees with a company’s values, they will take their business elsewhere.
Gen Z also seeks meaning in their work, products, and brands. They value relationships above all else. This makes them both tolerant and respectful. Gen Z will demand that same tolerance and respect from their brands and retailers.
Gen Z understands that companies have a role in improving the world. They will demand that the brands and retailers invoke that role. Those that do not will lose their attention.