Multiple Uses Drive Sales Surge in Athletic Apparel, Footwear

In Industry Experts, What's New by Accessories Staff

adidas by Stella McCartney Spring/Summer '14 Presentation during London Fashion Week

adidas by Stella McCartney Spring/Summer ’14 Presentation during London Fashion Week

Port Washington, NY–Whether it’s on a board or on a court, or in the classroom or office, sports-oriented apparel and footwear is a favorite with American consumers. So much so that activewear and athletic footwear sales are outpacing those of the general apparel market.

The NPD Group, Inc., a global information company, reported Thursday that U.S. sports market sales increased 4% from January to August this year compared to the same period in 2012. According to NPD’s Consumer Tracking Service, total U.S. sales for athletic footwear and activewear reached $36 billion year-to-date August.

Activewear: Faster Growth

Activewear sales increased more than the general apparel market, growing 7% vs. 1% increase in general apparel year-to-date August compared to the same period last year. Units were up 7%, and the average selling price was flat.

“Part of the reason activewear products are growing faster than the overall business is attributed to the consumer’s passion to get more fit,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD. “But the major influence on the rise in sales, especially in women’s, is the desire to look active.”

The women’s category contributed $7 billion in sales to the activewear market, up 5% year-to-date August. Key growth drivers included active pants (up 10%), tees/athletic tops (up 12%), and sweatshirts (up 11%).

“As dressing casually becomes more acceptable, women feel they are getting value when investing in activewear, like yoga pants, which they can wear to the gym, in the gym, and from the gym,” Cohen added.

Athletic Footwear: Multi-Purpose

Athletic footwear sales increased 1% from January to August compared to the same period one year ago. Units and average selling price were relatively flat. The men’s category maintained its leadership position with the largest share of the market (51%). While unit sales outpaced the athletic footwear market (up 2%), the average selling price was down 4%.

Men’s running footwear had been the big growth category, owning one of the largest shares of the market (24%). But year-to-date August 2013, more fashion categories drove the increase compared to the same time period one year ago. Casual athletics was up 6% with 26% share, and basketball footwear was up 12% with 11% share.

“Contrary to the women’s trend in activewear, young men have found the desire to dress up by wearing a suit with athletic shoes. This look is also becoming popular among the middle-aged male market seeking that active look,” says Cohen. “So in athletic footwear, consumers are keeping with the multiple uses trend and buying footwear to match their activewear as well as their dinner outfit.”

About The NPD Group, Inc.

The NPD Group provides global information and advisory services to drive better business decisions. By combining data assets with 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.



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