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NPD: E-Commerce Can’t Save Sagging Sneaker Sales

Sneaker sales are suffering under the coronavirus outbreak.

Athletic footwear sales fell by 65 percent during the week ending March 21, according to The NPD Group’s retail tracking service. All major brands experienced declines and the sport lifestyle and skate categories—previously the trendiest sectors in footwear—fell by more than 60 percent.

However, the footwear categories tied to youth sports have seen the biggest dropoff due to the lack of organized scholastic spring programs, NPD’s Matt Powell wrote in a blog post on Tuesday.

“American football, soccer, and baseball shoes all experienced sales declines of more than 90 percent,” Powell wrote. “This does not bode well for the parallel sports equipment categories and retailers who sell such products.”

Although there is some indication of a surge in running as consumers sheltering at home get out for short bouts of exercise, running shoes have yet to see a related bounce as sales fell by nearly 70 percent over the same period, Powell added. Performance basketball shoes saw a decline of more than 70 percent.

The bad news is that this trend is likely to continue until retailers are able to open their doors again, which wholly depends on when the pandemic releases its grip on the U.S.

“While some sales have likely shifted online and given a boost to retailers’ and brands’ e-commerce businesses, this is still not sizable enough to compensate and reverse these trends,” Powell said.

Before the pandemic, there was already trouble in the athletic footwear segment. There are currently no “hot” items in the category to replace tough comps in previous years, according to Powell, a situation unlikely to improve as consumers continue to stay home.