Even in Summer, Consumers Are Still Choosing Sneakers Over Sandals

When it comes to footwear, more and more, shoppers these days prioritize comfort and versatility. So it’s no surprise athleisure is still taking significant market share.

According to The NPD Group Inc.’s quarterly report on shoe industry sales, leisure footwear once again outpaced fashion and performance categories, including styles like sandals that are often popular during warmer months.

Sales in sport lifestyle, which NPD ranks as a subcategory of leisure footwear, climbed 8% in the quarter, responsible for about 85% of the growth in the category and 80% of the growth in the total footwear market. From April to June, total revenues in leisure shoe sales rose 6% to $3.3 billion, with men’s gaining 4% to $1.7 billion while both women’s and children’s were up 7% to $943.1 million and $672.6 million, respectively.

“Across genders, sport lifestyle sneakers continued to drive sales, as athleisure footwear remains popular,” explained Beth Goldstein, NPD’s fashion footwear and accessories analyst. “Chunkier looks stood out, and the flip-flopping weather drove increased demand for more transitional styles.”

In the last several years, athleisure has become a favorite among fashion leaders, A-listers and style influencers. Largely thanks to millennial shoppers, the streetwear market has expanded with the resurgence of logo-heavy ’90s fashion, such as the retro Fila Disruptor 2, which earned FN’s 2018 Shoe of the Year award.

“For the most part, brands that emphasize lifestyle saw stronger numbers than those that focus on performance,” said Matt Powell, senior industry advisor of sports at The NPD Group. “Small brands continued to outpace larger brands,” he noted, such as Vans, Puma and Reebok.

Performance footwear, Powell added, continued its four-year decline, dropping 4% to $1.6 billion in overall sales. Men’s, women’s and children’s performance shoes all posted losses. Fashion footwear similarly shed 4% to $3.2 billion, seeing an 8% improvement in the kids’ market but respective losses of 6% and 4% for men’s and women’s.

“Warmer temperatures and pre-Easter promotions jump-started spring business in April, but this was short-lived,” Goldstein added. “Sandals — including pool slides, which have had two strong years — struggled during the second quarter of 2019, although the category did gain back a bit of ground among women in June.” Strappy sandals with espadrille or athletic bottoms, however, were a bright spot in the category.

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

Watch FN’s tips on taking care of sneakers in the summer.

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