Back-To-School Check: The Brands And Retailers That Dominated Sales

It’s been a few weeks since kids and teens made their return to the classroom, and the latest sales data indicate that most of them are shod in Under Armour, Skechers, Nike, Brand Jordan, Vans and Converse.

Total back-to-school footwear sales rose 4.8 percent year over year, according to a Sept. 21 report by Sterne Agee CRT analyst Sam Poser, driven by strength in casual-athletic, which saw a 25 percent sales gain in August.

“Brands that sold well for back-to-school were heavily geared toward athletic/active product,” said B. Riley & Co LLC analyst Jeff Van Sinderen. “Nike did well, driven by fashion running, casual-athletic and basketball. Brand Jordan continues to grow and take market share in the basketball category, and Skechers performed well across a broad spectrum of casual-athletic and derivative product.”

It was Skechers, up 36.1 percent, that led the casual-athletic category, while Nike trailed was in second place, with a gain of 17 percent. Nike-owned Converse was also a big casual-athletic player, logging sales growth of 12.3 percent, Poser noted.

“Converse remained strong, but growth on the girl’s side seemed to slow,” Van Sinderen said.

VF Corp.’s Vans also showed significant sales growth, increasing 10.3 percent, according to Poser’s report.

“Vans grew, albeit at a more modest pace this year,” Van Sinderen said. “Their Disney product has been pretty good.”

Running, Poser wrote, has also been a top-performing back-to-school category, improving 6.7 percent in August.

There’s been some improvement in fashion footwear trends this season — much of which has been attributed to the efforts of Steve Madden Ltd. — which has bolstered back-to-school sales in the category.

“Steve Madden did well with cleaned-up sneaker-derivative slip-on product — as well as some open footwear for the high school and college-aged back-to-school customer,” said Van Sinderen.

Citi Research analyst Kate McShane and Poser both cited Foot Locker Inc. as a favorite among top-performing retailers for the season.

“Foot Locker featured Nike premium basketball, including the Kyrie, Timberland boots, new Adidas Tubular, retro running styles and branded backpacks,” McShane wrote. “Citi’s back-to-school mall tour in August highlighted Foot Locker’s ability to quickly flex toward casual-athletic/athleisure trends and a strong back-to-school pipeline led by Nike, Under Armour’s Curry and training [shoes] and an elevated Adidas offering.”

Poser said DSW Inc., Dick’s Sporting Goods, Shoe Carnival and Caleres’ Famous Footwear also saw significant gains since mid-August and into September, buoyed by this year’s later Labor Day holiday.

“Overall, we are hearing that back-to-school was pretty solid in athletic and casual-fashion athletic, which includes more genres of girl’s product, including a trend to go a bit more upscale casual/athletic derivative,” Van Sinderen said.

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