Athletic apparel and footwear sales were solid again this past week during what is typically the slow(er) period between Thanksgiving weekend and holiday sales leading up to Christmas. Underlying trends remain strong in both athletic footwear and apparel despite even more challenging comps suggesting last week’s positive results were not anomalous, but in fact evidence of continued strength in consumer spending – particularly in the athletic channel. Here are a few callouts from the week:
- Sales improved across all three channels with athletic specialty retailers continuing to outperform both the family and discount/mass channels with the later decelerating on a sequential basis while sales at family retailers improved on the margin.
- Footwear sales are exhibiting high price elasticity in the face of increased ASPs though broadly speaking pricing has firmed curbing what appeared to be heightened promotional activity in the first week following Thanksgiving weekend. Meanwhile pricing at athletic specialty retailers continues to register up MSD suggesting more full-priced selling, less discounting, or most likely some combination thereof relative to other channels.
- New England significantly outperformed other regions up +23% for the third time in the last four weeks. The negative callout on the week was the Pacific region registering the most anemic growth yet still positive. These results were in stark contrast with four straight weeks of significantly improved sales on a relative basis.
- Unseasonably colder weather, particularly in the southeast last week (good for HIBB) have clearly been a positive driver of apparel demand month-to-date and does not seem to be abating near-term. This has been evident in the outperformance of outdoor outerwear and VF’s The North Face, which has been crushing it of late.
- Despite recent narrowing between the performance and non-performance footwear growth spread, it’s widening once again on a trailing 3-week basis driven by diverging yy trends over the past 2-weeks stressing the importance of merchandise mix at the retail level – more favorable for FL & FINL.