Trends since August have turned decidedly more positive in the athletic industry since marking a near-term bottom from June through July during a period of declining trends in footwear and apparel. Here are a few noteworthy observations:
- While the impact of BTS has occurred later than expected this year, it has also come in stronger than most expected as well driving the v-bottom and hockey-stick like move in August on the 1yr and 2yr trends respectively.
- With trends moving sharply higher, it’s worth noting that footwear anniversaries its toughest comps over the next two-weeks – when sales came in +3.7% and 4.8% on a trailing 3-week basis before falling off sharply over the next 2-months – until we hit holiday driven December sales. Importantly, this period of favorable compares comes at a time when basketball begins to sell through on the heels of improving trends and new product is hitting the market.
- While toning has contributed to athletic footwear sales particularly in the summer months, the recent improvement in trends is at a time when the contribution from toning is on a decided decline and driven instead by core categories like running as well as basketball.
- Price still matters. After increases both in footwear and apparel heading into August, footwear trends have responded more favorably to less aggressive price increases over the last 6-weeks while apparel prices took longer to ease after which sales improved.
- On a regional basis there are two key callouts since the beginning of August. First, the relative outperformance in the South Central, which coincides with recent commentary out of DKS on the strength of the Texas market relative to its core business. The second is the Pacific region, which is the only region to slow over this period of considerable strength in the industry.
- With favorable Running and Basketball trends in footwear, Nike (both Brand and Jordan) and Saucony remain strong while Running, Compression, and Outdoor Outerwear have been the key categories of strength in apparel driving solid numbers at Nike, Under Armour, Columbia and VFC (The North Face).