According to The NPD Group, Inc.,a leading market research company, overall sales of running shoes are showing signs of softening in some key global markets, but sales of running shoes used by runners are posting modest gains globally.
The key markets where total sales of running shoes are softening are in the U.S. and in Europe. In the U.S. after three years of gains sales of running shoes fell slightly, by -0.9 percent in 2009. Sales also fell slightly in the European Big 5* countries, by -0.1 percent for the year. The international markets still posting growth are Canada where overall sales of running shoes were up 4.6 percent and in Japan sales were up 1.0 percent for 2009.
There is a bright spot of note and that is, in every geographic region NPD tracks the athletic footwear market sales of shoes 'used for running' outpaced the growth for overall running shoe sales.
Both in the U.S. and Europe, runners are willing to pay a premium; in the U.S., runners spend an average of $14.04 USD more on their footwear than leisure wearers, and in Europe's Big 5* they pay €9.80 more. Women runners are the drivers of this trend on both continents, paying even more than the overall trend.
Despite slight declines in the European Big 5* overall, France, Italy and Germany posted modest single digit increases. In the U.S., the slight overall decline was mitigated by higher average sale prices. In Japan, growth was driven by males, in all age groups, purchasing shoes at price points below $100 USD. In Canada, growth in sales was mainly driven by men, in addition to growth in the over $120 USD price points for both men and women.
“Purchases of running shoes that are 'used for running' continue to show strength as core runners around the globe remain passionate about their lifestyle,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst, The NPD Group, Inc., “While purchases of 'running shoes used for leisure' are being challenged by new product offerings as well as some lingering economic pressures.”
The brands that have benefited most from this growth varied by geographic region, in Japan and the European Big 5* the fastest growing brands included adidas, asics, and Nike, while Saucony, Puma, and Brooks were more successful in the U.S.
“With motivation being the number one driving factor for sports participation, brands need to have a 'multi-message' marketing strategy in place,” noted Cohen, “One message for the hard-core athletes and the other to reach the consumer that is the more casual wearer.”