Women’s Shoes, Athleisure Trends Boost the Athletic Industry’s Q3 Performance

An uptick in women’s athletic footwear sales and the athleisure trend — led by running-inspired looks — provided the boost needed for the overall U.S. athletic footwear market to see growth in Q3.

Matt Powell, VP and sports industry analyst with The NPD Group Inc., announced Tuesday in a report that women’s athletic footwear sales increased 6 percent during the quarter, the only demographic to grow (men’s and children’s sales were flat). The overall market experienced a 2 percent bump in Q3.

Also, while performance struggled, athleisure dominated. The sport leisure trend experienced mid-teen sales growth, Powell stated, powered by today’s ever-popular modern runner look. According to Powell, lifestyle running shoes saw an increase of more than 40 percent in Q3.

“Today’s young consumer are committed to fitness and health. It is a part of their everyday life,” Powell explained to Footwear News. They want versatility in apparel, so wearing activewear for all occasions let’s them express their commitment. I do not see us returning to more formal attire. Activewear is here to stay.”

The performance basketball category, which was once burgeoning but in recent years has struggled, continued its decline. Football, baseball and soccer footwear also saw sales decreases.

As for the brands competing in the marketplace, Powell stated that Adidas sales grew by nearly half (fueled by its sport leisure category), and Brooks experienced a double-digit increase. Adidas also saw growth in its basketball and running looks.

“In the case of Adidas, they are fully exploiting the modern runner trend. Adidas is very much aligned with what the consumer wants,” Powell said. “For [the recent success of] Brooks, I would cite a successful update to the core Adrenaline franchise, expanded and appropriate distribution and solid early results on Revel at $100.”

Nike sales were down in the low single-digits in part to a poor showing with performance running sneakers, Jordan Brand saw a mid-single digits drop, and Converse sales dipped in the low teens.

Despite Nike’s diminished sales, the brand still has several sneaker models on the top-selling list including the Tanjun, the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Low (Converse is a Nike-owned brand), the Air Huarache, the Jordan 5 and the Revolution 3.

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