The sneaker craze of late has taken the comfort kicks from workout wear to couture, and the latest data on sales show sport leisure is now the largest category in athletic footwear.
The U.S. athletic footwear industry grew by 2 percent in 2017, bringing in $19.6 billion in sales, according to The NPD Group. The average price consumers paid per pair remained flat at $58.16. The women’s market saw the greatest growth, climbing 5 percent, while the men’s and kid’s sectors grew 1 percent each.
“This was one of the most promotional years in decades for the athletic footwear industry. While promotions helped drive sales in 2017 and the product mix kept the average selling price flat, it was a double-edged sword for the industry, as its performance was not as healthy as in more recent years,” said Matt Powell, Senior Industry Advisor for Sports at The NPD Group. “Brands and retailers need to change their course of action to achieve long-term growth. Adopting solutions in their marketing and product development will give the industry an important boost in 2018, and set it on the right track moving forward.”
Sport leisure shoes accounted for $9.6 billion in sales in 2017, or 49 percent of the entire athleisure footwear category—which showed 17 percent growth over the prior year. Sales of performance sneakers, on the other hand, declined 10 percent to $7.4 billion, a rate NPD said “has accelerated for the last two years.”
The fastest growing market segments were running inspired sneakers (up 39 percent) and casual athletic footwear (up 24 percent). On the performance side, running shoe sales dipped 7 percent, and training sales were down 15 percent.
Nike, Adidas, Skechers, Under Armour and New Balance secured top spots as the best-selling brands based on dollar sales.
“Adidas was the fastest-growing player in the market overall, growing its sales by over 50 percent,” NPD noted.
In a more detailed ranking, Powell posted on Twitter Tuesday the top selling sport footwear items in dollar order: Nike Tanjun, Chuck Taylor All Star Low, Nike Air Huarache, Adidas Superstar, Nike Revolution 3, Jordan IV, Jordan XIII, Adidas Tubular Shadow, Jordan XI, Jordan VI.
Jordan brand sneakers took four of the top 10 spots, but highly-hyped pairs like Kanye West’s Yeezy line and Virgil Abloh x Nike, didn’t make the cut, giving rise to the theory that these sneakers may deliver more in terms of fanfare than the bottom line.
Either way, the data points to a casual sneaker trend with staying power.
“I often get asked whether the bubble around leisure will burst anytime soon, and the answer is no. There is not a single performance shoe in the top 10 list for 2017, which illustrates the sportswear fashion cycle we are in. Athleisure rules the runway, and the line between what is an athletic shoe and a casual shoe continues to blur. Brands and retailers must continue to feed this trend,” Powell said.
Click through to see the top 10 best-selling sport sneakers.