Port Washington, NY—Innovation in the category of athletic footwear is helping to boost sales in a particular niche. In a report released today by The NPD Group Inc., a global information provider, sales of lightweight athletic running footwear is soaring and continuing to grow. Year-to-date through October 2013, 30% of total performance running footwear sales came from lightweight running, which was up from 22% when compared to the same time period in 2012.
Shoes are being redesigned to shave weight, remove excess construction, and focus on necessary elements needed in a running shoe. Such innovation in construction has been key to the category’s success.
Brighter, Bolder Colors Are Key
“Innovation continues to set the pace,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD. “Consumers are looking for athletic shoes that will perform better than earlier models with a lighter, more comfortable weight. We have also noticed an attraction to brighter, bold colors. The lightweight shoe category is definitely growing faster than the running category overall.”
The lightweight trend is an evolution of the barefoot running/minimalist trend, which got its start with Run Specialty retailers. According to data from Leisure Trends, an NPD Group company, minimalist footwear first gained traction at run specialty in 2008, enjoying several years of significant growth before catching on with the larger channels. Now the retailers benefitting most from the increases in lightweight performance running footwear are sporting goods stores and chains more so than specialty retailers.
“While minimalist style shoes are losing momentum at specialty stores, they paved the way for the current lightweight trend.” said Cohen. “Sporting goods stores have an advantage over other channels with a breadth of assortments and a depth of inventory. Meanwhile, the more nimble specialty retailers are already looking for what’s next. Watch for innovations related to 3D printing and other technologies as the next evolution of lightweight in 2014.”
About The NPD Group, Inc.
The NPD Group provides global information and advisory services to drive better business decisions. By combining data assets with unmatched industry expertise, NPD helps clients track their markets, understand consumers, and drive profitable growth. Sectors covered include automotive, beauty, consumer electronics, entertainment, fashion, food/foodservice, home, luxury, mobile, office supplies, sports, technology, toys, and video games. www.npd.com
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