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."
One issue may be that brands for the most part didn’t feature major releases, according to Powell. "Black Friday is known for being a time for major shoe releases, but all the releases of scale appear to still be in stock," he noted. "In the past, those releases would have been sold out in the first few hours. Brands are putting far too many pairs of 'limited' releases into the market."
Sneakers aren’t really a major holiday purchase, at least not compared to electronics or even other apparel, but the retail analyst’s observations from this year show that they took something of a stumble compared to 2016.
Despite the great deals to be found in stores, shoppers may have been hoping for even better ones. "Foot traffic was slightly better than last year, but it appeared to me that fewer people were actually buying," Powell said. "While I am not checking purchases made from shoppers’ phones, which have consistently been on the rise, it is likely that shoppers were reviewing products of interest in-person and then searching for the best price online."
All major brands featured fairly heavy promotions, he found. Under Armour on its own site featured 30% off fleece and 40% other key items, and the brand was discounted 25% at Cabela’s, 25%-40% off at Kohl’s, with some items 40% off at Olympia Sports. Nike’s site offered 25% off clearance items, but Dick’s Sporting Goods offered 25% off Nike apparel, Finish Line offered up to 40% off Nike footwear, and Kohl’s offered 25%-30% off Nike items. Olympia marked Nike off 25%-35%, and Super Shoes marked it down 25%, according to NPD.
Adidas didn’t show up quite as much on NPD’s list, with just Dick’s listed as discounting its apparel 40%.
The sportswear brands are in a tussle these days, with Adidas on the rise while Nike and Under Armour struggle to regain traction as street styles begin to dominate more athletic designs. While it’s Under Armour that gave up its number two spot to Adidas, Nike has its own troubles, particularly with younger shoppers. The styles and icons of the 1990s are capturing the attention of U.S. teenagers, and that’s just one of the factors influencing their preferences and purchases, according to investment bank and asset management firm Piper Jaffray’s most recent "Taking Stock With Teens" research survey. Nike, Ralph Lauren, Steve Madden, UGG (Deckers), Fossil and Michael Kors saw the largest declines in teens’ preferences for major brands, according to that survey.
"All in all, it was a weaker start to Holiday 2017 for the U.S. sports industry, but given an earlier Thanksgiving this year and with almost four weeks to go before Christmas, there is opportunity for the industry to rebound from a soft Thanksgiving weekend," Powell said.