Athletic Footwear Sales Increases in June Couldn’t Offset Overall First Half 2020 Declines

Peter Verry

Although athletic footwear sales increases in June helped, they couldn’t provide an overall decline for the first half of 2020.

For the first half of the year, athletic footwear sales declined in the low teens compared to 2019, The NPD Group senior sports industry adviser Matt Powell revealed in a blog post today.

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In his blog post, Powell detailed the ups and downs of this year’s athletic footwear sales, which the industry insider said started strong. Powell said in January and February, sales combined were up low single digits.

But the coronavirus crisis that landed in March disrupted business, with sales for the month decreasing by roughly 40% followed by a 50% drop in April. (Powell described April as “the worst month I’ve ever seen.”)

Powell said there was a low single-digit decline in May, which was a slight improvement from the prior two months. The first increase since February was experienced in June, which Powell said saw a roughly 25% climb, primarily driven by limited edition releases.

Not everything in Powell’s blog, however, was doom and gloom.

According to the insider, several running brands were top market performers with sales gains through June including Brooks (high teens increase), Hoka One One (up more than 75%) and On (which more than doubled).

Performance running shoes as a category, however, were down for the six months in the low teens.

In recent months, Powell has been confident in the future of running shoe sales and has said he expects somewhat of a resurgence to come.

“In every recession that we’ve had since I’ve been looking at this business, running shoes make a big comeback,” Powell told FN in mid June. “People are out of work, they are looking for an inexpensive way to get fit and buying the paying a pair of running shoes or just running is whatever you have is an inexpensive way, if you will, to try to get fit.”

Other brands didn’t fare as well. Although Puma grew in the high single digits and Jordan Brand grew in the low teens, there were drops from many others including Nike (down in the high single digits) and Converse (dropped roughly by a third). Also, Adidas and New Balance were down in the mid-teens, Skechers saw declines in the high teens, Asics was down in the low teens and Under Armour, Saucony and Vans were down more than 20%.

From a category perspective, sport lifestyle declined in the mid single digits, Powell revealed, and performance basketball dropped roughly 20%. Also, sport slides declined in the mid-single digits, outdoor and water sandals were down more than a third and skate shoes fell about 25%.

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