While the entire country is losing its mind over Under Armour’s MLB deal and Wall Street is putting Nike out to pasture because Adidas has had one good year, I’m bringing it all down a notch and concentrating on my area. What I want is for anyone out there reading is explain to me what you see in your local footwear shops and chains. There have been about three major basketball releases for adidas. NPD’s Matt Powell has stated clearly that basketball is down and has been decreasing for a couple of years and I have the data to support this on a small scale. Basketball is about 22% of the athletic footwear market according to Sports One Source. This means that a drop in basketball is bad for the footwear market overall. The sales have been bolstered by retro sales, but overall basketball is hurting the shoe market.
As a small shop I will be the first to admit that hardly anyone wears shoes for what they were designed to do. This is a sentiment carried by the people who do stats and consulting. However a few years ago I couldn’t keep LeBron’s, KDs, and Kobe’s in stock (The LeBron X era). I was also selling these shoes at a very high price above retail in most instances. Nike dominated this market and no one else really mattered. People were wearing basketball shoes as casual wear and a pair of LeBron 10s was just as valuable as a pair of Retro Jordans.
Between the LeBron 11 and this past year the 13, Nike banked on technology and advancements in shoe design as opposed to dope off the court styling. Instead of paying attention to the success of the Flyknit Racer and Roshe, Nike dropped Elite versions of its basketball models at ridiculous, premium prices and basically killed the sale of the shoes forcing style conscious teens and adults to choose comfort and subtlety over performance based on pricing.
In other words, Nike went all in on basketball instead of capitalizing on the success of Roshe and Flyknit Racers and getting back to their running roots. Adidas took notice and the ZX Flux was born in 2015 which ushered in this current trend of success for Adidas. I have the stats and info to show this shift happening last year with the printed “Ocean” and “Prism” ZX Flux selling at way above retail. Nike pumped out more expensive and ugly basketball shoes with inflated prices. The KD which was once a 100 dollar model was jacked up to 180 and 200 for the Elite version. But the shoes were horribly designed and had zero casual cool. The LeBron which at one time was 130, was jacked up to 200 and 250 for the Elite version. The Kobe saw this increase as well.
All of this was in the last three years which coincides with the decrease in sales for basketball. Remember however, other brands weren’t doing much in hoops at all. Under Armour did launch the Curry 1 which performed very well and expanded with the second Curry release, but then Under Armour made the stupid choice of making a 2.5 this year basically killing the momentum, not to mention Curry lost a 3-1 lead in the finals and Under Armour has made one dumb ass commercial #Makethatold… but that’s a different story.
What does all of this have to do with Adidas and their lack of representation in Memphis? Everything.
Basketball is making a comeback. I’m making a projection based on my own sales and stating that basketball sales will see its first increase in three years in Q1 of 2017. This will carry over into Q2. I actually expect basketball sales to be stronger this year by the end of Q4 2016. Retro will obviously be strong as it has been all year, but in the last month or so I’ve seen a shift begin as the NBA season has gotten underway. While most people are still reporting about the Under Armour Curry 3 not selling, I realized that a lot of the data is coming from non-store owners. I also realize that FootLocker CEO’s statement was made before hoops season had even started which is a comment on the poor timing of the Curry release; another knock on UA’s marketing team.
Groups like NPD have POS sales so they are more accurate in analyzing and predicting, but as an actual foot soldier in the sales war I see first hand on a daily basis what is happening and while my microcosm is just a sample, I tend to think it reflects the nation.
Right now Adidas is represented well with Stan Smith, Superstars, NMDs and UltraBOOST in Memphis. The shoes are selling very well. Basketball season just really started though December 2016 and the stories that I said could revitalize basketball footwear sales are taking shape.
Here is the issue, I visit almost every store in Memphis on a regular basis. I can give you an almost accurate count of how many sneaker stores are in Memphis and the surrounding area. This is important because Memphis is the big city in the tri-state area. People drive from Mississippi and Arkansas, along with the outskirts of Memphis people who visit the city and shop. There are around 50 sneaker stores in about a 1 hour radius of downtown Memphis. In all of these stores Nike Basketball is not flying off of the shelves. It’s trickling out. There are a couple of shoes that are selling very well. LeBron Soldier X at 130/pair. The KD in certain colorways are selling out at 150.00. The Kyrie can hardly be found. Maybe two colorways are sitting. Kid’s Kyrie’s are in abundance, but there were so many released and once again sales were slow. The price of Men’s Kyries are 120.00, Kids are 100.00. There are never a lot of Kobe’s available but they are marked down as well and they have sold through fairly well. These shoes are 200.00 retail. The older models from the previous year are now moved to the back of stores, but as I said there is a shift happening again.
Westbrook is dropping triple doubles. Klay has just dropped 60 points. The Knicks are actually winning games and the Lakers are semi relevant. Cleveland has an angry LeBron who is mad about being disrespected by Phil Jackson and the Bulls are actually good. We haven’t hit January and All-Star and the NBA stories are coming at us fast. Here is what Adidas is doing. They’ve dropped the Crazy Explosive (only at 1 store in Memphis). They’ve dropped the Harden 1 (in about 5 stores in Memphis). They’ve dropped the Rose 7 (1 store in Memphis). The worst part, Nike may be selling slow, but Nike is selling. Adidas Basketball may be more non-existent than ever with the rise of Adidas retro and running. Adidas is taking care to enhance the NMD with a version 2, unlike Nike with Roshe and Flyknit Racers. They are dropping a ton of colors, and the UltraBOOST is available, but the markdowns on Stan Smith and Superstars are crazy. The shoes are 49.99 and while NMD/Boost running is still selling well, basketball is set to become a player again and Adidas is nowhere to be found.
How can I say that the trend is shifting? It may be better for me to show you than tell you. My online shop encompasses the full inventory available at almost every store. I have almost every style in stock. Instead of typing I’m stopping to add a video to this section:
Okay, now that you’ve watched the video, I will conclude this. Basketball is going to make a comeback. It won’t be big, but Adidas is not prepared for the shift to happen. Will it affect them negatively? Probably not since running and retro will still be strong, but this is going to be an important thing to watch. What do you think?