Overheard on Wall Street: Athleisure, Nike India, Brand Jordan

Weekend Sneaker Releases
The Air Jordan Retro 13.
Courtesy of Sneaker Politics

You’ve made it to the end of another hectic week, and now it’s time for your Friday delivery of Wall Street’s musings.

This week, several hot footwear topics made the rounds — including ever-important trend chatter and Nike Inc.’s growing presence in India.

Read on for the buzz.

Nike India Opens Largest Store Yet

As a part of its effort to fuel “a lifestyle of sport and fitness in the country,” Nike said it has opened its largest store in India, located on Brigade Road in Bengaluru.

Opened on July 6, in partnership with India-based lifestyle-and-distribution firm SSIPL, the 7,355-sq.-ft. store is spread across three levels and will place a particular emphasis on running, the company said in a release.

“At Nike, we truly believe in the power of sport and how it can change lives,” said Sanjay Gangopadhyay, managing director and general manager for Nike India Pvt. Ltd, in a release. “This new store represents a bold step towards providing consumers in India with the best products from across the globe, which will help them become better athletes. We are confident that this store will cater to the sporting needs of every athlete in this city.”

Casual Athletic Keeps Surging

Athleisure and other casual-athletic products continue to dominate the footwear space, driving overall sales in June, as evidenced in recent data referenced by Sterne Agee CRT analyst Sam Poser and Citi Research analyst Kate McShane in their reports this week.

For the month of June, the casual-athletic footwear category saw double-digit growth, increasing 27.5 percent, McShane and Poser pointed out. Poser also highlighted data from the national accounts channel (athletic specialty and sporting goods and the Internet) that showed a 24 percent increase in the category, as well as the volume channel, which saw a 35 percent jump.

The largest driver was the new Air Jordan Eclipse with a price of $110, Poser wrote.

Running footwear also saw gains — up 3.8 percent year-on-year — but growth at Nike and Under Armour Inc. was partially offset by declines at Adidas, Asics, Brooks, Mizuno, New Balance and Saucony, McShane wrote.

Poser added that while there was a 13.5 percent increase in sales in running in the national accounts channel, average selling price (ASPs) slid 10 percent in the category.

Poser blamed that decline on 30 percent growth in the kid’s business — which carries lower price points — inventory liquidation at Finish Line and continued strength at Nike’s Roshe and Flex, which also carry below-average price points.

Jordan Boosts Basketball

“The basketball business is all about Jordan,” says Poser.

During June, the analyst noted, total basketball sales increased 6.8 percent, though ASPs were down 4.2 percent. The gains were driven by a 23 percent increase in Jordan sales, Poser said.

Jordan launches in the month of June included the Air Jordan 5 Space Jam on June 6 and the Air Jordan 13 Low Bred on June 13.

Basketball offerings for Brand Nike, Jordan brand’s parent company, have been losing ground to Jordan, experts have noted.

“Nike basketball was weak during the month [of June]. Sales decreased 19.7 percent as the focus has shifted to Jordan,” Poser said in a July 8 note.

McShane also detailed Nike’s overall numbers for the month of June, indicating double-digit gains at Jordan compared with single-digit growth at Brand Nike.

“In June, combined Nike brand sales increased 11.6 percent [year-over-year], versus a 3.6 percent increase last year, via growth of 8.2 percent for Brand Nike, 23.8 percent for Jordan and 10.7 percent for Converse,” wrote McShane in a July 8 note.