Athletic footwear sales have taken a significant hit amid the coronavirus crisis.
According to data provided by The NPD Group Inc., athletic footwear sales dropped 65% for the week ending March 21 compared to the same week in 2019. NPD senior sports industry adviser Matt Powell said in a blog post today that this marks “a real turning point in the evolving story of U.S. athletic footwear sales amid the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Powell also said that all the major and hottest brands are facing declines and sales in categories that were trending before the coronavirus crisis hit. The country, sport lifestyle and skate categories dropped by more than 60%. The performance basketball shoe category, which has been weak for years, declined more than 70%.
Also, despite the running boom and people’s desire to log some miles for fitness or distraction, Powell said NPD data has not shown any lifts in running shoe sales. In fact, he said running shoe sales were down by nearly 70% the week ending March 21.
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The industry insider believes despite some sales moving to e-commerce, declines will continue as long as brick-and-mortar stores remain closed for the time being.
Although sales are down, top brands in the space are working to ensure its retail partners have what they need to get through this uncertain time. Brooks CEO Jim Weber told FN that the brand is using its social media platforms to direct consumers to local specialty run retailers for their needs, even with its own consumer-direct web presence still operational.
“What we’re doing through our local dot-com network is trying to push volume their way if people are interested in shopping local. We’ve been marketing this on our social media channels and seeing a great response. We typically see 1,000 visits to our store locator on Brooksrunning.com a day, once we turned on this campaign to help drive customers to shop with their local retailers, we saw visits jump to over 9,000 in a day,” he said.
Altra Running president Todd Dalhausser said his company is also encouraging consumers to shop local.
“We all need to spread the message to consumers to think about local stores first before purchasing online,” Dalhausser said. “Consumers can call ahead, see if the stores are offering curbside pickups, purchase gift cards. These are the people who host the packet pickups, weekly runs and inject spirit into the local running community, and if brands come together in different ways to support our specialty retailers during these times, we can, all together, help make a positive impact.”
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