NPD Group Releases December Report

NPD Group has released its December sales report, which shows footwear sales reaching $4.1 billion, a slight rise over last year’s $4 billion. The group uses a monthly point-of-sale shoe database to track results from athletic specialty, sporting goods, chain stores, department store and other channels.

Men’s sales were $1.6 billion, while women’s revenues were $1.8 billion and children’s footwear came in at $647.5 million. The men’s and children’s categories registered increases of 8 percent and 16 percent, respectively, while women’s declined 7 percent.

Total U.S. fashion footwear sales were $1.6 billion, 11 percent lower than the year-ago period. Overall U.S. leisure shoe sales were $1.4 billion, a 24 percent jump over last year.

Finally, U.S. performance-shoe sales were $1.1 billion, flat with last year.

According to NPD’s Beth Goldstein, both fashion and performance shoes lost ground to leisure footwear. That category was boosted by strong sales of casual/retro sneakers, rainboots and snow boots.

Drilling down, Goldstein said traditional men’s silhouettes such as oxfords and slip-ons could not compete with the popularity of casual sneakers. Meanwhile, the analyst said that fashion boots declined, while booties and rainboots and snow boots performed better.

In the children’s segment, fashion boots were strong, and Timberland was a standout performer.

Overall, sneakers were up by double digits in the leisure-footwear segment. Children’s leisure was driven by classic, non-performance sneakers.  

Matt Powell, athletic industry analyst for NPD, said warmer-than-normal weather lifted some retailers, as did continued buzz around late November retro releases.

By category, running grew by the high single digits, and Under Armour running grew by more than a third. Cross-training shoes declined by the mid-single digits, as Nike lost share to Skechers.

But “the big headline for December was Adidas,” Powell said. “The brand experienced particularly big gains in classics and casual. It appears that many of the moves management has put into place are starting to pay off.” Saucony and Brooks also had a solid month.

 In the leisure category, the strongest growth came from classics, led by retro basketball and running. Basketball was driven by increased allocations and the carryover of late-November Brand Jordan releases that did not sell out. Every major brand in retro running had an outstanding month, and that trend is still growing.

According to Powell, the hiking/light hiking category improved by the high teens for the month. Nike was a standout performer, while Columbia, Merrell and Timberland also saw increases.

After a slow start to the winter season, cold-weather boots had a mid-single-digit rise in December. Columbia, Timberland and Sorel each had substantial increases over the previous year.

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