The Athletic Footwear Market Eclipsed $17 Billion in 2016

If you look to your left and to your right, you’re bound to see someone wearing athletic sneakers. And with the masses sporting them, a safe assumption is that the industry supplying the desired footwear is growing.

But how much did the industry grow in 2016? According to The NPD Group, it grew 3 percent to hit $17.5 billion.

The global information company said the growth happened despite less-than-stellar sales to end the year.

“For more than a decade, U.S. sales of athletic footwear have averaged about a 4 percent annual increase, but 2016 will go down as a slightly below average year; however, given the sports retail landscape in 2016, it is understandable why this happened,” Matt Powell, VP and sports industry analyst with The NPD Group, said in a statement. “The Sports Authority and Sport Chalet bankruptcies certainly shook the industry, with the greatest impact hitting in the fourth quarter, when both retailers were fighting for their survival. It is likely that we will still see the impact continue through Q1, but after that, the drag should be over and trend should return to normal.”

Sport Chalet stated last April that it was shuttering its doors and website, and Sports Authority announced the following month that it was closing all of its doors.

Sport Chalet
Sport Chalet.
CREDIT: AP Images.

According to The NPD Group, the athletic specialty/sporting goods channel — which makes up more than 50 percent of annual athletic footwear sales — grew 2 percent for the year, and shoe chains outperformed other channels with 7 percent growth.

Department stores grew 1 percent, according to The NPD Group, and national chains felt a 1 percent decline.

As for the best performing categories, classics took the top spot in 2016 with sales reaching $4.4 billion, a 26 percent year-over-year increase. The information company stated the classics category has grown $1.7 billion over the past three years.

“Retro will remain the dominant fashion trend, but success won’t come easy. Competition will intensify and brands must constantly update their styles,” Powell said. “To further distinguish themselves and stay ahead of the competition, brands should focus their innovation on the manufacturing side, emphasizing speed and sustainability, as this impact will be long-lasting, regardless of where fashion moves the market.”

Nike Air Max Uptempo 97 Black Pack
Nike Air Max Uptempo 97 “Black Pack.”
CREDIT: Courtesy of Nike.
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