Females continue to lead males as purchasers of sports footwear although that margin decreased slightly in 2004, according to data released by the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA). For 2004, females purchased 53.3% of all sport footwear compared to 53.4% in 2003.

Female place-of-purchase also shifted, with a higher percentage of women purchasing shoes in specialty athletic footwear stores (48.9% in 2004 versus 47.5% in 2003) and in specialty sports shops (50.6% in 2004 versus 44.0% in 2003). Women also increased their Internet purchases versus men, 51.4% in 2004 versus 44.5% in 2003.

In sporting goods stores, female purchases versus male slipped slightly, to 41.1% in 2004 versus 41.4% in 2003.

The average price females pay for sports footwear remains below that of males, $37.98 versus $41.86. However, the gap between the two price points is narrowing. In 2003, the average price paid by females was $36.94, versus $42.11 for males.

The information on female sports footwear purchases will be included in the NSGA report “The Sporting Goods Market in 2005,” to be published by the Association in April. Based on a consumer study of 100,000 U.S. households, the report summarizes 2004 retail sales totals — in units and dollars — for 22 types of athletic and sports shoes as well as products in more than 20 sport categories.

Also featured are additional purchaser demographics — annual family income, age of product user, education of household head and sales according to region of the country. Place-of-purchase data allow for analysis of the industry’s channels of distribution. Consumer purchases on the Internet are reported.

The report, which NSGA has published for more than two decades, provides selected product sales history for the last 10 years. This allows the analysis of long-term trends. Brand share reports on individual shoe categories are available separately.

For additional information, contact NSGA via phone at(847) 296-6742; fax (847) 391-9827; or e-mail: info@nsga.org; or visit the NSGA website at www.nsga.org.