The National Sporting Goods Association last week previewed some of the data from its annual report due out in May. One element of The Sporting Goods Market in the 2005 report, which was prepared by Irwin Broh & Associates, reveals that the average retail selling price across 24 categories of footwear has seen a recovery in 2004 after a slight dip in 2003, a 3.0% decline in 2002 and a 0.4% dip in 2001. The average price rose 1.1% to $39.32 in 2004 from $38.88 in 2003. The five-year trend is still showing a negative number, but the decline is far less than the 3.2% decrease in five-year ASP reported last year.

NSGA said that the categories with improving ASP outnumbered the decliners two-to-one for the 22 categories of athletic and sports footwear surveyed.

Hiking footwear showed the highest rate of increase for the year at +6.3%, followed by Aerobics (+4.1%). Sport Sandals and Boat/Deck Shoes both made a comeback in 2004 after reporting in the top three decliners in last yearÂ’s report.

More excitement surrounding the Boat Shoe category and the proliferation of more technical models here is one explanation. In Sandals, we would expect the increase, albeit small, is a result of more sandal companies pushing higher-end product, including pushing flip-flops over the $49.99 threshold.

On the down side, Skateboard shoes showed the biggest decline (-2.7%), followed closely by Basketball (-2.6%). The Skate decline, which comes after a 2.0% increase last year, may be due in large part to the move by the mall guys to exit the category and the increase in business done in the Family Footwear channel. Still, the category is holding on to the lead in the ASP increase over a five-year span with a 6.9% gain. Basketball, on the other hand, continues to slide as Running takes hold at the mall and more Basketball gets sold for less across the board, both at full pop and on the increase in markdown product sold.