Athleisure Has Taken Over the Sneaker Market as Shoppers Ditch Performance Styles, Study Says

Hope is all but lost — in the near term — for performance shoes, according to Matt Powell, senior industry adviser for sports at The NPD Group.

“Performance footwear continued to struggle in the second quarter, [since] all of the market’s energy is in sport lifestyle,” Powell said, commenting on NPD’s Q2 Footwear Insights report released Tuesday. “Athletics-inspired, nonperformance footwear has driven most of the growth in the sport leisure category. Athleisure has taken over the athletic footwear market, and I do not expect the performance categories to improve anytime soon.”

Specifically, sales for performance shoes — which include basketball, running, soccer, football, tennis, training and baseball — were down 5 percent during the period to $1.7 billion, NPD found. Meanwhile, leisure footwear — which includes sport lifestyle and boots — saw a sales gain of 7 percent to $2.9 billion.

Powell added that growth in retro athletic footwear has also slowed down, although that market is still growing with brands like Fila, Puma and Reebok reaping the benefits of renewed interest in throwback styles.

Elsewhere, NPD’s fashion footwear and accessories analyst Beth Goldstein said casualization also ruled the fashion footwear segment with comfort-driven slides, mules and clogs among the standouts.

“Fashion sandals grew double digits in May but softened in June, leaving them up in the low single digits for the quarter,” Goldstein said. “Sport leisure, inclusive of sport lifestyle sneakers, skate and sport slides, was the only broad category to grow in Q2.”

Overall, fashion footwear sales, comprised of dress, casual, evening shoes and slippers, were flat year over year at $3.2 billion.

NPD compiles its quarterly report using information from its monthly point-of-sale footwear database. It is collected from the athletic specialty/sporting goods, premium, mid-tier, shoe chain and other channels.

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