March turned out to be an excellent month for Sport Footwear despite the challenges expected with the later Easter holiday this year, rising grocery and gasoline prices and continued winter weather patterns throughout much of the country. 


The energy for the five-week fiscal month of March bodes well for the overall fiscal first quarter through April as retail sees benefit from the latest Easter holiday since 1943 (see SEW_1115) and spring break kicks in for much of the U.S.

Based on retail point-of-sale data compiled by SportScanInfo, consolidated sales of Sport Footwear for the fiscal month of March improved in the high-single-digits in both dollars and units in the channels tracked by SportScanInfo, yielding a very-low-single-digit increase in average selling prices.

As expected, sales and ASP growth began trending down near the end of the month due to comparisons against the earlier Easter holiday last year. By sales channel, revenues were up in the high-teens in the Internet channel, up high-single-digits in Full-Line Sporting Goods and Athletic Specialty stores and up low-single-digits in the Family Footwear channel, which is also the most impacted by the Easter shift.
Men’s and kid’s Sport Footwear sales improved in the high-single-digits for the month while sales of women’s product trended up in the mid-singles, which is a very encouraging sign given recent price compression and a continued downtrend in the Toning category.

The dropoff on Toning sales is expected to have a profound impact on the market as the trend works its way through retail. In the year-ago period, the month’s top ten selling products included four Skechers Toning shoes – this year there were none.

For Running foowear, sales pulled back a little from a strong February trend, but still improved a robust 20% as all channels recorded substantial gains for the period.  Men’s Running grew in the mid-teens while women’s grew in the high-teens. Kids Running sales improved by nearly half.

All of the growth in Running came from Lightweight, which saw sales improve four-fold against the year-ago period.

As a result, Cushioned Running product declined in the mid-singles as the Lightweight category is likely cannibalizing some of these sales – especially to the casual wearer.

Lightweight Running is tracking to exceed $1.4 billion in sales this year.  By market share, Nike has as 56.5% share; Reebok has a 30.5% share; Adidas claims 6% and Puma and Under Armour about 1%, respectively.
For the Fitness/Training business, March represented a spike in sales as revenues for the segment surged nearly 25%.  Men’s Training grew in the low-teens while women’s was up about 25%. Kids’ product proved to be the standout with sales improving nearly fourfold on very strong sales of the Griffey product.  Nike has a 64% market share in Fitness/Training, New Balance has 22% share, while K-Swiss has 2% share with sales improving about 25%. 

Sandals were another hot category for March as overall sales grew by about 25% on strong results in Sport Sandals and Flip Flops. Crocs was the stand-out here as sales nearly doubled versus easy prior –year comparisons.

Basketball had a decent month with sales improving in the low-teens.  The Jordan brand (61% share) had another weak month with sales down in the mid-singles while Nike (31% share) saw sales improve by nearly half. At Adidas, sales grew by two-thirds while Reebok’s basketball sales improved 1.5x for the period on the strength of the Zig Slash product.

Athletic Casual Footwear continued to improve, although sales still declined in the low-singles. Skate footwear continued to slide with sales for March down 25% versus the year-ago period.  

Toning sales declined about 25% in dollars with units up in the mid-teens on a 40% decline in average selling price. Skechers sales declined about 50% on 47% share while Reebok sales slowed to a 50% increase on 43% share.  New Balance had about 5% share in Toning.  Average selling prices are expected to be depressed significantly until the inventory glut cleans up. In reviewing the top seller reports, it appears that some of the newer styles are selling well at close to suggested price and margin, which is encouraging for retailers and manufacturers.
For Cleated product,  sales grew in the high -singles on strength from Adidas, where revenues jumped in double-digits.  Nike and Under Armour both posted a mid-single-digit increase.