What’s Selling: Hoka One One and New Balance Lead the Way at Running Stores

What’s selling at running shoe stores this week? Here, four key retailers weigh in on winning brands and top trends and talk about what’s not moving.

Jennifer Hall, manager, Ready to Run, Austin, Tex.

Top Three Brands:

New Balance: “All the styles are accommodating for most people. A lot of shoes fit well for various foot types.”

Brooks: “It’s another one of those shoes that fits a variety of feet.”

Saucony: “It fits a wider foot and we have lots of people coming into the store who may need a wider fit.”

Top Trends: “What we, and our customers, gravitate towards are traditional drop neutral cushioned shoes that are unique. In particular, more single colors. It doesn’t matter if it’s gray, blue or a neutral versus neons.”

Not selling: “We’re selling less motion-control shoes. Over the past 10 years, neutral or light stability shoes are being made better, so the motion control shoes are not as relevant anymore.”

Hot Take: “A lot of people coming to the store do more than just running, such as fitness groups. We usually recommend they don’t use running shoes for all their [activities].  We also don’t get a lot of newbie marathon runners. It’s now people who’ve been running for a long time, but are now branching out into other sports and fitness classes and also using running shoes for cross training ”

Megan Digregoril, buyer/manager, Falls Road Running, Baltimore, Md.

Top Three Brands:

Brooks: “The Ghost , a neutral shoe, and Adrenalin, a stability shoe, are the top two styles. Both have been in the line for more than 10 years.”

New Balance: “It’s moved up the ranks for the past two years, with the men’s and women’s 860 the best seller. It’s hard to get them right now. They’re sold out unless you book them a year in advance. Additionally, a couple of years ago [new management] decided the styling of the brand was important and started making shoes that looked trendier. New Balance also signed women athletes that drive the brand in the professional field.”

Saucony:  “They’ve started to move back up. They had struggled a bit along with Asics. Now, with some of their updates they are going to be climbing back.

Top Trends: “A lot of people are talking about carbon plate shoes — Nike  Vaporfly 4% and Hoka One One Carbon X. The Vaporfly blew up last year when it was released. The Carbon X was just released, the answer to the Vaporfly. If you go to any race you’ll see either one of those shoes on most peoples’ feet, even the general population. They’re made for people who are really fast, but an everyday person is buying and wearing them as well.”

Hot Take: “People are starting to look for more cushion and comfort. Years ago, it was all about the minimalist running. But now, people are willing to spend more money for the cushioning.”

Philip Clark, founder and operator, Run Shoe Store, Philadelphia   

Top Three Brands

Hoka One One: “They’ve done a good job at bringing their innovative manufacturing techniques to the mind of the public. So more people have been interested in trying them on. It’s the single shoe people come in looking for, eight times out of 10.”

Mizuno: “They make all their flagship styles in wide widths and that’s important.”

New Balance: “It’s primarily on the strength of their Fresh Foam line. People like it.”

Top trends: “We’re just transitioning out of neutral colors being dominant and getting back into a broader color palette. Our wall is still neutral, but this time next spring it will be more colorful. It’s a pendulum in the running world where you go from bright colors to neutral, and it’s now swinging back. Another trend is moving away from shoes with medial posts, hard heel counters and aggressive mid-foot wraps. Eighty percent of shoes we stock would be classified as neutral shoes.”

Not selling: “There are individual styles that aren’t selling, but not whole lines. None are striking out across the board. If one is struggling, it’s Asics which is disappointing. Their sizing has been off for a couple of years now.”

Hot Takes: “Hoka One One. That’s the single answer.”

Greg Lemon, co-owner Milestone Running Shop, Northpark and Pacific Beach, San Diego, Calif.

Top Three Brands:

New Balance: “It’s the No. 1 brand. It’s made a lot of strides over the last three years in innovations. They released a wide range of shoes from high cushion to max stability to a minimalist style. As far as styling goes, they‘re on the same level as Nike with taking risks. High school kids come in saying, ‘I want a cool looking shoe.’ I immediately assume Nike, but they want New Balance.”

Brooks: “It’s very consistent. You can get the same shoe year after year. Style-wise, everything is getting better. They also do a good job reaching out to the running community and just staying involved.”

Hoka One One: “It’s still in a category of its own when it comes to cushioning. Right now, everything they release does well. They’ve done a good job of creating a buzz around new releases. People get excited and come in looking for specific shoes .”

Top trends: “Cushioning and a lower heel-to-toe drop, closer to being a barefoot style. Hoka and Altra do well because they’re closer to being barefoot as far as the heel-to-toe offset.”

Not selling: “We don’t do well with feminine colors. We get a lot of push back, so we try to hold off on purple and pink. The brand that is struggling the most is Asics. A couple of years ago they switched to a European last which is narrower and it changed the entire fit.”

Hot take: “With athleisure and athletic so big, a lot of people are buying running shoes for comfort. The great thing now is people are willing to go for comfort rather than anything else. It’s important for overall foot health.”

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