Total U.S. fashion footwear sales slipped 12 percent, total leisure footwear sales dipped 1 percent, and performance footwear sales declined 9 percent in Q1 as the topline of all segments were negatively impacted by three key issues, according to research firm NPD Group. An extra week in the 2018 retail calendar negatively impacted Jan. 2019 sales; lower IRS returns hurt Feb. sales; and the Easter calendar shift to April impacted March results.
Without the extra retail calendar week, Q1 footwear sales trends would have improved by approximately 5 percent in the fashion, leisure and performance segments, but only leisure would have shown positive growth, NPD said. Among key trends: non-performance sneakers continued to grow throughout the three-month period; “Buy now, wear now” purchasing bolstered cold weather silhouettes earlier in the season; and more transitional/seasonless silhouettes such as mules and loafers in March, according to NPD analyst Beth Goldstein.
Overall footwear sales hit $7.3 billion in the Jan.-Mar. period. Total Leisure sales of $3.2 billion included a 1 percent drop for women’s styles to $946.6 million and 2 percent decline for children’s to $785.5 million while men’s was flat at $1.5 billion. Performance footwear, which includes sport-specific athletic shoes and especially basketball, underperformed in Q1, NPD analyst Matt Powell said. On the upside, smaller brands are thriving and growing faster than the overall market, he added. Men’s performance sales were down 8 percent to $843.3 million with both women’s and children’s declining 10 percent to $523.4 million and $286.8 million, respectively.