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Athletic Footwear Steps Up With a Strong Q1

If footwear sales are an indicator, people are keeping their New Year’s resolutions to exercise and stay active. That’s according to The NPD Group, which reported a solid first quarter performance for the athletic footwear and apparel categories.

Compared to Q1 2014, when the categories became stagnant, dollar sales from January to March 2015 increased 8 percent for sneakers and 9 percent for activewear.

In total, the men’s athletic footwear category increased 6 percent in the first quarter. Men’s walking sneakers, classics and hiking footwear each saw double-digit gain, while basketball and training footwear helped offset a low single-digit decrease in running, the NPD reported. The women’s athletic category, which experienced 7 percent growth, was boosted by a 75 percent increase in classics. Walking, hiking and training were offset by a flat performance from the running category. Overall, children’s athletic footwear increased 8 percent, with basketball and running styles buoyed by double-digit gains.

“The combination of cold weather, an earlier Easter, and the continued strength of the athleisure trend factored into the success of sneaker and activewear sales during this first part of the year,” said Matt Powell, The NPD Group sports industry analyst. “Easy weather comparisons in January and March offset the colder weather in February, while the earlier Easter, coinciding with school Spring Break, helped force business into Q1.”

Nike and Jordan reaped the benefits of the athletic footwear boom, with 62 percent of total athletic footwear Q1 brand share. Skechers and Adidas followed and far behind with 5 percent each, and Asics with 4 percent.