The 2008 back-to-school shopping season revealed some interesting new trends in the sport footwear market as many of the trends seen last year reversed themselves for the eight-week period from mid-July through mid-September.  Based on retail point-of-sale data compiled by SportScanINFO, overall sport footwear sales were up in the mid-single-digits for the back-to-school period, fueled by renewed strength in the kids and men’s businesses.  Retail sales of women’s sport footwear were down in low-single-digits for the period.

Lifestyle footwear sales outpaced performance footwear sales, with the women’s side of the performance business actually declining for the period.  Fashion athletic was not driving the gains in lifestyle footwear, declining in double-digits for BTS on much weaker men’s sales in the category.  However, skate footwear continued its strong push, leading all categories with strong double-digit growth for BTS due to continued strength at family footwear, teen retailers and core shops, and sandals and classics both showed energy.  Running continued to show strength, but the growth came from the fashion side of the business, which was up in strong double-digits.  Performance running was down in high-single-digits for the period.

One surprise came from the Heelys business, which experienced high-single-digit growth as the family footwear channel embraced a category that has all but disappeared at full-line sporting goods and mall specialty.