Comfort appears to be in style year-round, as leisure sneakers have dominated men’s and women’s footwear sales gains in the U.S. over the last 12 months, according to global information company The NPD Group.
Non-performance, athletic inspired sneaker sales for adults were up 17% in dollars in the 12 months ending April 2018 over the prior year. The men’s market, which comprises over 60% of sales, grew 10% while the women’s market grew the fastest, up 33%.
Sports slides increased their sales by 34%, and behind sneakers it was this style that contributed the most dollars gained to the men’s market. In women’s, the styles that contributed the most dollars gained, behind sneakers, were strappy sandals, fashion slides, slip-on loafers, and mules/clogs—all of which experienced double-digit growth during the 12-month period.
Non-performance, athletic inspired sneaker sales for adults were up 17% in dollars in the 12 months ending April 2018 over the prior year.
“Seasonal lines are blurring, and so are consumer attitudes and usage when it comes to footwear. As leisure footwear continues to grow, the fashion-focused players need to take the cues that comfort is not an added benefit anymore; it is a necessity for consumers regardless of the season,” says Beth Goldstein, executive director, fashion footwear and accessories analyst, The NPD Group. “Similar to their expectations of technology, function and versatility are also top of mind as consumers expect their footwear to do more than one thing, or perform in a variety of conditions. Simplification is also important; consumers want less that does more.”
Illustrating the importance of comfort and adaptability, consumer spending is highest on footwear intended primarily for casual/everyday use, according to data from NPD’s Consumer Tracking Service, and this figure grew by 8%, after a decline the year before. At the same time, consumers reported spending less on footwear meant for evening/special occasions.
In addition to versatility and comfort, value and convenience are also resonating with consumers. From a distribution perspective, the top growth channels for the most recent 12-month period included factory outlets, off-price retailers, and shoe chains, as well as online/internet pure plays and brands’ own retail stores, both online and off.
“Consumers’ priorities have shifted. They are more time-starved, and therefore demand that shopping be easy and entertaining, both in-store and online,” says Goldstein. “With increasing competition and direct-to-consumer distribution becoming more of a focus for both existing brands and start-ups, today’s retail environment makes differentiation even more critical than before.”