Footwear retail sales stalled in Q1 compared to the same period a year ago, data from the NPD Group’s retail tracking service showed.
In the first quarter of 2022, U.S. retail footwear sales revenue fell by 3% and unit sales declined by 12%. Women’s footwear revenue grew 4%, men’s declined 6% and kid’s fell 12%. Sales at retail for three major athletic footwear brands — Nike, the Jordan brand and Adidas — also softened in Q1 versus last year and are underperforming compared to the rest of the market, according to NPD.
On the other hand, Reebok, Hoka, Skechers, Puma and On saw growth, according to NPD.
“With big brands struggling at retail, due to discontinued retail and other factors, shelf space and open to buy has opened up for smaller brands,” said to Matt Powell, NDP’s VP and senior industry advisor for sports. “Brands that seized this opportunity will likely be able to hold onto this increased market share.”
Larger brands ceding share to up-and-coming brands could signal the start of a “seismic shift” in the footwear industry, Powell said.
To be sure, part of this retail decline for Nike and Adidas is at least partly a result of them actively turning away from certain retail partnerships in favor of a robust direct-to-consumer model. For example, Nike has terminated wholesale accounts with retailers like Zappos, Dillard’s, DSW, Urban Outfitters, Shoe Show and more, leaving many retailers without the ability to sell one of the most popular brands in stores. Nike has also cut back on the amount of product it is offering in existing vendors, like Foot Locker, in order consolidate distribution.
As a result, brands like Skechers and Puma are picking up wins in these retail channels while maintaining their own DTC growth at the same time.
But even according to NPD’s consumer panel, which includes DTC channels, Nike’s sales were down 16% and Jordan sales were down 19% in Q1.
These declines come as footwear prices continue to increase. Footwear prices grew 6.6% in March, year over year, according to Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA) data. This marks the third-fastest year over year increase in about 33 years, trailing behind February’s 7% increase and May’s 7.1% increase. Men’s footwear was up 5.1%, women’s was up 5.8% and kids’ was up 11%, the second highest spike in 33 years.
Given the high prices, almost half (48%) of footwear consumers plan to spend less on shoes this spring than last year, a national spring survey of consumers from FDRA found.
Fashion footwear sales, which includes dress, casual, and slippers, grew by 11% in Q1, though unit sales fell by 11%, NPD’s retail tracking service found. Dress shoes made up more than two thirds of growth in the fashion category.
Amid a rising demand for sandals, Crocs grew 9% and Steve Madden grew 57%, though UGG declined in the mid-single digits.