Are Sneakerheads Buying the Same Way They Were Before the Coronavirus Outbreak?

Much of brick-and-mortar sneaker retail throughout the country has been shut down to slow the spread of the coronavirus. However, most stores and brands have digital shopping platforms that are operational, ensuring consumers can still buy.

But even the most ardent collectors are second-guessing their purchases during uncertain economic and angst-ridden times.

“In the current situation, spending time with your family is more important than anything,” said Canada-based influencer Cid “The Kicks” Merisier, who said he is not at all interested in buying anything at the moment.

Although Merisier’s spending is on hold, others are still buying but being much more selective than in the past.

“I’m still interested in picking up a few things, but right now nothing feels really like a necessity,” said influencer Henry “Henrock” Francois. “I’m definitely going to be pickier with my sneaker shopping habits during this whole pandemic. Even though I’m pretty smart with my money, I have no idea how long I’ll be out of work so I need to be very careful.”

For InHerSoles Collective co-founder Yaya Mazurkevich Nuñez, the shoes have to be an absolute must-have for her to put a pair in the online cart and check out.

“I don’t see myself spending money on nonessentials, but if something comes out that I feel I absolutely must have, I’m more than likely still going to get it,” Mazurkevich Nuñez said. “I’ve been more savvy with my money in recent years, so I’m definitely more in tune with being frugal and slowing down on spending.”

However, Jasmine Gonzalez, co-founder of the InHerSoles Collective, is committed to buying throughout the coronavirus crisis. Her decision to spend, however, isn’t solely because she likes what’s coming out. It’s also a respite from the current professional unease for Gonzalez, who works in the health-care industry.

“My decompression and anxiety is relieved by reading about new product, technology in sneakers and looking at editorials in kicks,” Gonzalez said. “It’s what brings me joy. I feel connected to the streets, pop culture and my passion.”

Despite their sensitivity to economic conditions, collectors still have their wish lists. Both Mazurkevich Nuñez and Gonzalez were eager to pick up Melody Ehsani’s Air Jordan Women’s OG collab on March 19, and Francois is patiently waiting for the Air Jordan 6 “DMP” to drop.

Merisier said that during this time he’ll spend his money on the Air Jordan 1 High OG “Court Purple” and at local businesses.

“There is more to think about instead of shopping. We have all the clothes and shoes we need. However, if you want to help and do your part, buy stuff to support your local brands,” Merisier said. “They need us more than anything in this current situation.”

There are still be plenty of opportunities ahead to buy. Brands are delivering coveted releases every week and retailer launch calendars have drops ready throughout April. Also, highly anticipated collabs from Sneakersnstuff x Vans, Reebok x Mita Sneakers, Lapstone & Hammer x Saucony and several others are still hitting retail as planned.

Despite business coming from die-hard sneaker fans, the majority of consumers aren’t buying with the frequency they were before the country was asked to remain indoors.

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.”

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