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Athletic footwear is significant portion of overall footwear market - Marshal Cohen

16 Mar '07
2 min read

'Low Performance,' 'Ath-leisure,' 'Fusion' footwear, call it what you will, NPD's latest footwear data trends are showing the biggest growth in the athletic shoe categories that have more of a 'fashion focus.'

The NPD Group Inc, leading provider of consumer and retail information, released 2006 sales results for athletic footwear. In the 19.4 billion dollar athletic footwear market, low performance footwear, the category of athletic footwear designed to emphasize fashion and comfort, has now become the second largest athletic shoe category coming in a very close second to running shoes (4.8 to 4.9 billion dollars respectively).

“There is a clear shift by consumers from casual athletic shoes to fashion designs for casual.” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst, “Athletic footwear retailers and manufacturers need to take a careful look at this trend and focus on what consumers are asking for. A huge part of the athletic footwear market is not comprised of hard core users.”

“Athletic footwear is a significant portion of the overall footwear market, and there's a shift in what consumers want in their active footwear,” said Cohen. “Consumers are telling us that style and comfort, not performance, are the keys here.” In a recent survey, consumers told NPD that comfort is the primary influence on their athletic footwear purchases. Price and 'a fashionable look' placed second and third as purchase influencers.

Cohen points to the Skate category as another example of the fashion and comfort trend driving sales. “While skate-inspired footwear still represents a small market (800 million dollars of the 19.4 billion dollar total athletic footwear market), its growth can't be ignored. And it's not. Brands as well as retailers are re-orienting their focus on this market. Some have even moved toward this fashion trend and vacated other athletic footwear categories.” cited Cohen.

“I think that the athletic footwear industry is beginning to expand its horizons and not concentrate entirely on the athletic-side of the equation.” said Cohen. “I think the Nike/Payless 'Tailwind' announcement is a perfect example of how the industry is taking note of these developing trends.”

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