Athletic brands will be unable to offset sales from last year’s fourth quarter, predicted Matt Powell, senior industry advisor for NPD Group, the Port Washington, NY research firm. His comments came after a Q3 saw gains by sport lifestyle footwear driven by the likes of Crocs, Birkenstock and Dr. Martens. U.S leisure footwear sales rose 7 percent to $3.9 billion in the period ended Sep. 30, paced by 9 percent growth in men’s to $1.8 billion, according to NPD’s retail tracking service.
Most of the third quarter growth for U.S. athletic footwear sales can be traced to an increased number of limited-edition shoes,” Powell commented, adding, the limited releases were a boon for the sport lifestyle segment that now represents more than half of all athletic shoes sold.
Meanwhile, the performance athletic footwear segment continued to struggle in Q3 with running, basketball and training experiencing sales declines. Overall, performance athletic footwear sales slipped 4 percent to $2.0 billion with women down 5 percent, men off 4 percent to $1.0 billion and children flat at $408.1 million.
As for key results reported last week by public companies:
- Puma, working to become a stronger contender for more open shelf space in several categories, generated 17 percent currency-adjusted growth in footwear to the equivalent of $734.5 million. Sales in the Americas, which includes the U.S., rose 18 percent on a currency-adjusted basis to $554.8 million.
- Skechers is promising continued sales growth in the U.S. in Q4 after reporting a 6.7 percent increase in Q3 to $558.2 million that included 5 percent wholesale growth, an average unit price increase of 3.1 percent and 8.7 percent improvement in Direct-To-Consumer sales.
- Driven by a strong Back-To-School seasons, Vans’ sales rose 16 percent in Q3. Sales of The North Face, another VF Corp. brand, rose 10 percent in period ended Sep. 30. VFC is now forecasting 9-10 percent annual topline growth for TNF and Vans’ sales to increase 13-14 percent for the full year. Vans and The North Face combined will represent 80 percent of the company’s growth over the next five years.
- Rocky Brands experienced the strongest Q3 growth for its Rocky brand in the independent channel as outdoor styles sold through well in larger accounts such as Dick’s Sporting Goods and Bass Pro Shops. Durango sales were up low double-digits year-over-year due to strength in key accounts such as Boot Barn, Tractor Supply Co. and Cavender’s. TSC introduced a new children’s program from the brand.
- Sales of the Koolaburra brand from Deckers climbed 41 percent y-o-y to $26 million in Q3. Koolaburra is moving to gain market share in the U.S. wholesale family channel with expanded distribution. Also, the brand is testing some category extensions, including licensed home products in Kohl’s.