The Athleisure Trend Is Far From Dead — and Here’s $9.6 Billion in Proof

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Despite some unevenness in recent months, the athleisure trend is here to stay — and there are industry numbers to prove it.

According to The NPD Group, sport leisure captured the largest share of the U.S. athletic footwear market in 2017, boasting sales of $9.6 billion and a 17 percent uptick. In fact, none of the shoes in the top 10 list last year were under the performance category.

Among the best-selling brands were Nike, Skechers, Under Armour, New Balance and Adidas — with Nike dominating the list and Adidas earning its stripes as the fastest-growing market player.

“Brands put far too much emphasis on performance when the consumer wants sportswear,” said Matt Powell, senior industry adviser of sports at the market research firm. “Athleisure rules the runway, and the line between what is an athletic shoe and a casual shoe continues to blur.”

Overall, the U.S. athletic footwear industry grew 2 percent to reach $19.6 billion in revenue last year, with unit sales also increasing by 2 percent and the average selling price remaining steady at $58.16. Women’s footwear sales saw rapid growth, surging 5 percent from 2016, while the men’s market, which represents the largest segment, gained only 1 percent in sales, along with the kid’s market.

Still, Powell described 2017 as “the most promotional year I have ever seen,” expressing uncertainty in the industry moving into 2018.

“While promotions helped drive sales in 2017 and the product mix kept the average selling price flat, it was a double-edged sword for the industry, as its performance was not as healthy as in recent years,” Powell explained. “Adopting solutions in their marketing and product development will give the industry an important boost in 2018 and set it on the right track moving forward.”

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*The information in The NPD Group’s report comes from its monthly point-of-sale footwear database. It is collected from athletic specialty, sporting goods, chain store, department store and other channels.