Footwear sales in the U.S. experienced steep declines in April, however an industry insider revealed two performance running brands saw increases: Hoka One One and On.
“For the most part, athletic brands that were outperforming the market before the pandemic continued to do so, and those that underperformed did not improve. Two standout brands in April were Hoka One One and On Running, both of which had strong increases despite the steep declines within the overall market,” The NPD Group senior sports industry adviser Matt Powell said via email. “These running shoe brands also helped the performance category to fare better than the industry — a story we haven’t been able to tell in quite some time.”
Although NPD did not break out exactly how well Hoka and On performed in April, the market research company shared overall industry insights for the month — demonstrating a stark contrast between Hoka, On and the rest of the industry. According to NPD, total footwear sales stateside for April reached $1.2 billion, a 56% decline versus the same period in 2019. Also, sales for the 12 months ending April 2020 hit $31.5 billion, an 8% drop from the year prior.
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From a category perspective, performance shoe sales declined 50% in terms of dollars, leisure sales also fell 50% and fashion sales dropped 66%.
As the overall footwear industry faces challenges stemming from the pandemic and a major reduction in discretionary spending, certain brands, including Hoke and On, continue to enjoy demand. For his part, Powell has been upbeat on the labels for some time now.
“The consumer really likes the ride with On. They find it to be comfortable and different from other shoes,” Powell told FN in August 2019. “In the case of Hoka, we’re seeing customers say, ‘My knee doesn’t hurt anymore,’ or ‘My hip stopped hurting, and I can run again.'”
Aside from Hoka and On, NPD fashion footwear and accessories analyst Beth Goldstein revealed via email that slippers performed well for April.
“Fashion footwear sales again underperformed in total, but slippers sales doubled compared to last year and increased by 12% over March. While most of the growth was a result of price growth due to splurges on higher-priced slippers, the number of pairs sold also grew, as consumers outfitted themselves for comfort at home,” Goldstein said. “Other casual categories that gained share despite declining over last year included sport lifestyle sneakers, sport slides, and mules/clogs driven by the continued growth of Crocs — adding to Matt’s point about brands that were already doing well pre-pandemic. In addition, work/safety boots and sneakers, essential to many frontline workers, outperformed the market as well.”