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NPD: Sneakers Stay Strong as Q3 Fashion Footwear Falls

The NPD Group’s latest U.S. footwear sales data showed the continued fall of fashion footwear sales in the third quarter, but the market research company warned that tough comps could see sport leisure styles following suit by year-end.

According to NPD’s Retail Tracking Service, leisure footwear sales, including sneakers, sport-inspired styles and skate shoes, grew by 7 percent over the comparable period between July and September, totaling $3.9 billion in revenue.

Men and children were responsible for much of this growth, as men’s leisure footwear sales increased by 9 percent to $1.8 billion and children’s sales rose 7 percent to $971.3 million. Sales for women in the category rose 3 percent to $1.1 billion but revenue for both Nike and Adidas was down when it came to women’s leisure footwear, NPD noted.

“Most of the third-quarter growth for U.S. athletic footwear sales can be traced to an increased amount of limited edition shoes released compared to the same period last year,” Matt Powell, senior industry advisor at The NPD Group, said. “Particularly, the limited releases were a boon for the sport lifestyle segment, which now represents more than half of all athletic shoes sold.”

Other bright spots for the category included a 20 percent bump in revenue at Vans and “strong increases” for Puma, Fila and Champion. Powell expects this effect to be reduced in the fourth quarter as brands struggle to top last year’s releases.

In fashion footwear, however, sales were down again—another step in the category’s slow decline. Overall, fashion footwear revenue was down by 4 percent in the third quarter, falling to $2.7 billion in the quarter from $2.8 billion in the prior-year period.

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“While the fashion category continued to contract in Q3 as U.S. consumers gravitated towards the sport lifestyle footwear options, bright spots in the quarter were weather appropriate or transitional, such as sporty/comfort-oriented strappy sandals, fashion slides, mule/clogs, and mid-shaft boots,” Beth Goldstein, fashion footwear and accessories analyst at NPD, said.

“Key unisex items from Crocs, Birkenstock, and Dr. Martens were big growth drivers. Along with fashion sneakers, slippers and cold/all-weather boots will be important for the holiday, as well,” she added.

Performance footwear had another difficult quarter, leading to a decline in the mid-single-digits for performance-first Under Armour footwear. However, running brands like ASICS and Brooks improved in the high singles. Overall, U.S. performance footwear sales were down by 4 percent to $2.0 billion, led by a decline in cold/all-weather boot sales of more than 20 percent.

As a category, running, basketball and training shoes were all down in the quarter.