This weekend, Foot Locker opened its first West Coast flagship store, in Los Angeles at the Hollywood and Highland Center, according to a company press release emailed to Retail Dive.
Foot Locker said the location features personalized experiences for customers, though it didn't elaborate on details. It will also include product drops that kick off with an exclusive line of Yeezy Boost, Kanye West's collaboration with Adidas. More such product releases are to follow, according to the company.
The store will also host special events leading up to the NBA All-Star Weekend, which is set for L.A. next year, the company said in an email to Retail Dive.
Foot Locker is going back to its roots with the opening of this store, the company told Retail Dive. The retailer's connection to Los Angeles began with its first store ever, which opened in Puente Hills, CA, in 1974. The store's associates are "product experts who have their fingers on the pulse of sneaker culture, allowing for an amplified, in-store shopping experience," the company said.
The athletic shoe retailer is under pressure as athletic styles in general are giving way to more urban fashion. Its athletic gear is doing well, but it's underperforming in more casual styles, a problem at a moment when streetwear is of increasing importance. That, and declining traffic in stores, doesn't bode well.
"Staying on top of its game in terms of the assortment is critical if Foot Locker is to fend off the challenge of brands selling direct and via other channels such as Amazon," GlobalData Retail analyst Anthony Riva said in a note to Retail Dive last month. "While Foot Locker management has previously indicated that they do not see these trends as particular threats to the business, we believe they have the potential to severely undercut the need for customers to visit Foot Locker stores."
Still, the retailer is doing better than its peers, poised to "defend its industry position" against Amazon's growing competition in the space, Morgan Stanley analyst Jay Sole said earlier this year in a note emailed to Retail Dive. But there's other competition, too. Zappos last month unveiled a sneaker retail concept it's calling "The_ONES," and Lululemon has a new tie-up with Athletic Propulsion Labs for a line of sneakers in men's and women's styles.
"Foot Locker is well positioned to grow sales, even as more players crowd into its sector," GlobalData Retail Managing Director Neil Saunders said in a note emailed to Retail Dive in May. "The key to this success is the company's drive to ensure it remains a key destination for sporting, and sneaker, enthusiasts."
But the holidays haven't been great for the market. More shoppers than last year headed to stores to find sneakers and other athletic wear on Black Friday, but they weren't necessarily buying, according to a report from NPD Vice President Matt Powell emailed to Retail Dive. "[M]ost of the sports doorbusters appeared to be in stock well into the afternoon," Powell wrote.
That's despite discounts that were even steeper than the typical 20%-25% off of last year, Powell said. "This year there were many promotions that went as deep as 40% off, and many were on entire stocks instead of select styles," he wrote. "At retail, I saw discounts that were deeper than were advertised."