Sandals, Sports Shoes Among the Items Consumers Haven’t Been Buying Since the Pandemic Hit the US

As expected, the coronavirus pandemic has weighed heavily on the footwear industry in Q1, with sales declining across all categories.

From the period of January to March 2020 versus the same time in 2019, total fashion footwear sales fell 24%, according to U.S. Footwear Data & Insights from The NPD Group, while total performance shoes saw a 19% decline and leisure was down 15%.

Because most spring sports have been cancelled or postponed due to the crisis, the athletic market has been adversely impacted. Baseball, soccer, and golf shoe dollar sales declined an average of 30%, said Matt Powell, senior industry advisor for sports at The NPD Group. Performance basketball as well as running shoes also declined.

However, he said he’ll be keeping an eye on running shoes sales in the absence of fitness centers. The industry insider previously told FN that limited-edition shoe releases in January helped increase sales by roughly 10%, February’s numbers dipped in the low single digits and March declined by 40% with the pandemic sweeping through the U.S.

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Outside of athletic, sandals were the hardest hit, down over 30% for the quarter and double that for March, according to fashion footwear and accessories analyst Beth Goldstein.

The only fashion footwear growth category in Q1, she added, came from slippers.

“Consumers showed some splurging for work-at-home comfort,” she said. “Although unit sales were down, dollar sales growth was driven by sales of premium product.”

Aside from slippers, relevant comfort product — including sport slides, flip flops, hiking footwear, and clogs — showed slight growth as March came to a close, with Crocs leading the trend, Goldstein added.

As the pandemic continues, general merchandise sales seems to be rising since the week ending March 28. For instance, NPD reported that dollar sales grew 13% in the week ending April 18, compared to week ending April 11. However, despite the the growth, the week saw declines of 23% in dollars versus last year.

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