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It’s been a strong year for footwear, which reached total sales of $64 billion in the 12 months ending in June 2015—a YOY increase of 5 percent. Sneakers were the top-performing category, generating $1.2 billion in sales and responsible for 38 percent of the footwear industry’s growth. Nike, Skechers, Vans, Brand Jordan, and Under Armour stood out as the brands with the highest YOY growth. And we can give a big thanks to the Millennial segment (aged 18-34) for their strong industry support. This group’s footwear fervor contributed to one-third of total footwear sales and fueled nearly two-thirds of the industry’s growth.

What accounts for the strong growth in online sales? NPD Sports Industry Analyst Matt Powell attributes sneaker e-tail success to the inability of retail storefronts to carry all sizes and color combinations. “Since most adult sneakers come in more than 20 sizes, it’s virtually impossible for a single retail door to stay in stock on every size. The Internet, however, is rarely out of stock,” he explains. Likewise, the style and color selection of shoes is much broader on the Web than in store. Matt also points out the heavy influence of Zappos, which pioneered the “free shipping, both ways” model, allowing shoppers to buy shoes online with little risk. Most retailers offer this incentive now, so buying shoes online is simple and risk free.

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