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Footwear Sales Bouncing Off Bottom?

I think that athletic footwear sales are bouncing to some degree off the bottom, as the 1, 2, and 3-year trend is in positive territory for the first time in 10 weeks. While trends are only marginally positive, I'd note that recent head-fakes were driven by inventory clearing activity. But this time, inventories appear squeaky clean.

That means less discounting, and a well-needed glimmer of hope for a down-and-out industry. The chart below from NPD Fashionworld (data I've found to be statistically significant) shows the y/y change in average price point spike to a three week trend of about 8%. That hasn't happened in years. Yes, compares are easy, but even on a 2 and 3-year run rate the numbers are looking more stable.

This synchs perfectly with comments from a source of ours who buys off-price merchandise at a relatively large US retailer -- "I've got money burning a hole in my pocket, and not enough product to buy." A disproportionate portion of these buys usually come from Sporting Goods retailers. That sends us a positive sign about the footwear inventory position at the Dick's, Sports Authority's, and Hibbetts' of the world. It also reaffirms what we already know -- that the major brands are showing some restraint as it relates to overbuilding product.

Let's not get too excited here -- the longer term trend here is still likely to turn this industry upside down (see past postings). But such change is not linear.

This is something to watch.