Spending for Athletic Footwear Dips 6% in1998; Stable Fourth Quarter Helps Offset Weak Third Period; Running Shoes Edge OutBasketball as Most Popular
Consumer spending for athletic footweardeclined 6% in 1998, due largely to a weak third quarter, according to a national surveythat has tracked the market since 1992.
Consumers reported they spent $13.804billion for athletic footwear in 1998, compared to $14.732 in 1997. The number of pairspurchased also fell by 6%, to 325.4 million from 346.6 million. The 1997 figures were thehighest reported during the study period.
"The results in the third quarter toldthe story of the year," said Gregg Hartley, executive director of the AthleticFootwear Association, which announced the findings. "This is normally the industry’sstrongest sales period, but consumer spending fell 20%. For the rest of the 1998, saleswere roughly the same as 1997.
"The industry may have recoveredsomewhat in the last quarter of 1998 in the sense that the sharp third-quarter slide didnot carry over," Hartley said. Sales for October through December were $3.739 billionin 1998, compared to $3.751 the year before.
The survey, by the NPD Group, PortWashington, N.Y., found that running shoes took over first place as the most popularcategory, barely edging out basketball. Running shoe sales rose 1% to $2.355 billion from$2.332 billion. Basketball shoes sales fell 22% to $2.328 billion from $2.985 billion
"It’s tempting to blame the NBAlockout for a decline in the popularity of basketball shoes," Hartley said, "butthe fact is that a fashion swing to running has been going on for at least three years.This probably would have happened in any event."
Hiking shoes, up 13% to $969 million from$858 million, and walking shoes, up 1% to $1.228 billion from $1.216 billion, were theonly other categories to show gains. Sales of cross training, athleisure, tennis, aerobic,baseball and soccer shoes and sports sandals all declined.
The average price paid for a pair ofathletic shoes dipped fractionally in 1998, to $42.42 from $42.50 the year before.
Spending for men’s athletic shoes dropped7%, to $5.671 billion from $6.087 billion in 1997. Sales of women’s athletic shoes fell 5%to $6.316 billion from $6.681 billion. Sales of children’s athletic shoes were down 7% to$1.587 billion from $1.715 billion.
The Athletic Footwear Association iscomposed of about 140 companies that market and distribute athletic footwear in the U.S.It is part of the