Erratic Weather Keeps Footwear Revenues Down in September

Total U.S. footwear sales declined 5 percent year-over-year in September, according to the latest report from The NPD Group, as uncooperative weather continues to take a toll on footwear and apparel firms.

The market research firm’s newest footwear insights report says the decline caused total U.S. footwear sales to land at $2.4 billion during the period, and follows the prior month’s decline of 2 percent, to $2.5 billion.

Similar to the previous month, sales declined most in women’s footwear, down 7 percent year-over-year, to $1.1 billion, while men’s footwear revenues slipped 5 percent, to $910.5 million — a much steeper decline than August’s modest 1 percent dip.

Sales in children’s footwear rose 1 percent, likely bolstered by late back-to-school shopping.

By product category, U.S. fashion footwear sales fared the worst — falling 11 percent year-over-year, to $994.8 million. (Fashion footwear includes dress, casual, and evening shoes and slippers.)

Beth Goldstein, executive director and industry analyst at The NPD Group, said there weren’t many major month-over-month changes for footwear sales in September.

Fashion sneakers were again the main growth driver in September, leading any and all back-to-school momentum,” Goldstein said. “Prime boot season has definitely not kicked into gear yet, but work boots for men and over-the-knee styles for women continued as bright spots, while strappy sandal strength continued into the fall.”

Sales for performance footwear, which includes walking, running, cross training and basketball shoes, dropped 10 percent, to $726.6 million.

September 2016 saw a material slowdown from previous trend in both lifestyle and performance running,” said Matt Powell, VP and sports analyst for NPD. “The year-to-date running trend was up in the low single digits, while the month of September declined in the mid-single digits. The technical running brands were particularly hard hit.”

In August, running sneaker sales had been flat, while cross training, basketball and other performance shoes saw declines. 

Leisure footwear sales saw the strongest growth among product categories in September — gaining 10 percent year-over-year, to $694.1 million. (Leisure footwear includes work boots, casual athletic, outdoor sandal, sport slide and cold/all-weather boots.)


*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.

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