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Strong Sneaker Market Bodes Well for Back-to-School Retailers

Will strong mid-year sales for athletic footwear result in a positive back-to-school season? All signs point to yes, according to data collected by The NPD Group from specialty, sporting goods, chain and department stores.

From January to June 2015, athletic footwear dollar sales increased eight percent in the first half of the year. Meanwhile, the average selling price of athletic footwear grew seven percent. The children’s category—spurred on by the popularity of classics and cross training styles—continues to outperform men’s and women’s, with sales up 11 percent. This is in addition to the 11 percent increase the category experienced during the same period one year ago.

“June is a prelude to back-to-school, making this mid-year performance a positive indicator for the back-to-school season,” said Matt Powell, sports industry analyst, The NPD Group. “These sales results in the first half of 2015 bode well for a strong second half of the year.”

Nike and Jordan remain the top selling athletic brands, together accounting for 58 percent of dollar share. Skechers and New Balance followed with five percent each. Asics and Adidas claimed four percent each.

In terms of style choices, The NPD Group found that classics are a bright spot with sales up 25 percent. Women’s classics climbed 77 percent, and sales for men’s classics grew 20 percent. Growing interest in retro runners gave the category an edge. Sales for the throwback styles more than doubled during the first half of the year.

On the performance end, The NPD Group reported a one percent uptick in running footwear, a category that flat-lined this same time last year. NPD attributed the growth to sales in women’s and children’s. The walking category fared well, growing in the double-digits. Cross-training also gained traction with 12 percent gains among women and four percent among men.