Footwear manufacturers must be feeling the pinch. And that's not from wearing shoes that are too tight.
Data released from two different groups shows women are buying fewer shoes, paying less, and opting for discount stores more frequently in 2002. Other information shows that the average price paid for all athletic footwear fell, while the pairs of shoes sold increased.
Women slowing down shoe buys
According to data on women's purchases by the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA), Imelda-ism declined slightly among sports footwear buyers in 2002. Women still buy more sports shoes than men, but the men are slowly catching up. In 2002, women bought 53.1 percent of sports footwear, down from 54.7 percent in 2001. Women also went looking for good buys more often, finding 57.2 percent of their shoes at discount stores in 2002, up from 56 percent. That of course means that they bought fewer shoes at sporting goods stores (40 percent versus 41.8 percent in 2001) and specialty athletic footwear stores (46.7 percent versus 49.8 percent).
But buying more shoes doesn't mean they pay more than men. The average price women pay is $36.53 compared to a men's outlay of $42.88. In 2001, the average price paid by females was $38.55, versus $43.43 for males. This information is in an NSGA report to be published in April on footwear demographics based on a study of 100,000 U.S. households. It was prepared by Irwin Broh & Associates. For more information, go to www.nsga.org.
Sports footwear purchases up, average price down
In the second release of information by the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA), data shows U.S. consumers purchased nearly 7 percent more pairs of athletic footwear in 2002 than in 2001, but the average price paid per pair fell by 4.2 percent. This research was done by The NPD Group (www.npd.com).
Although sales weakened in the fourth quarter (down 2.1 percent), the second and third quarters were strong (up 6.6 percent and 10.7 percent, respectively), SGMA said, blaming the weakening on the threat of increased terrorism and war, as well as a weakening economy. The group foresees, however, a spending increase this year of about 4 percent.
According to The NPD Group, 57 percent of buyers in 2002 reported that they purchased their athletic footwear on sale. The average price paid for a pair of athletic shoes fell to $36.61 from $38.20 in 2001. Cross-training and fitness shoes held 12.8 percent of the athletic footwear market, but sales in retail dollars fell in 2002 by 7.6 percent, the research showed. Running shoe sales showed no change and held the largest market share at 28.6 percent.