April 22, 2020 by Sitara Raman

Global Athletic Footwear Market Size


What connects Justin Bieber, Snoop Dogg, and Kim Kardashian?

Unless you’re a maniacal retail insider, you wouldn’t probably know they all own a pair of YEEZY Boost 750, a type of sneaker that was designed by Kanye West and released by Adidas. Since then, sneakerheads, athletes, fans, (celebrities too!) go crazy when West drops a collection.

Just 4 weeks ago, West and Adidas dropped a new addition to the YEEZY Boost 350 V2 family, dubbed “Yeshaya” and the collection was a quick sellout on StockX.


Gone are the days when sneakers were worn solely for the purpose of walking or running. Ever since Athleisure took the spotlight, functional / purpose-based apparel and footwear have become a common sight outside sports, in mainstream leisure.


In this blog post, we take a look at the athletic footwear industry landscape, growth factors, key players, and how they differ in terms of performance metrics such as traffic, channel presence, and social engagement.


Athletic Footwear Market 


Athletic Footwear market segment includes shoes specifically designed for sports purposes (e.g. basketball, baseball, tennis,etc.). Besides footwear for sports, there are other categories such as athleisure, work and safety shoes, and ski boots. For the purpose of the blog, we’re keeping the latter ones out of the analysis.


The global athletic footwear market is worth an estimated US$ 70.8 billion in 2019 and is growing at a CAGR of 5%. The industry is projected to grow owing to increasing demand from fitness conscious customers, gym-goers, and ones who use athletic footwear during the fitness routines.


APAC is the fastest-growing region (40% of global GMV) for athletic footwear, thanks mainly to the sheer size of the growing population that is participating in outdoor sports and fitness activities, which is fueling demand for specific kinds of sports shoes. Moreover, the price points of athletic footwear in this region is relatively more affordable compared to those in developed nations like the US or the UK. India and China are the fastest-growing markets within the region.


North America and Europe follow the lead with a 30% and 25% contribution to overall GMV respectively. This can be credited to the people having a greater interest in sporting, adventure and fitness activities in these regions. 

Global athletic footwear market share 


At $22.9 Billion GMV, the US is the largest contributor to athletic footwear in North America. 

US Footwear Market Share Athletic Vs Non-Athletic

The segment accounts for about 33% of the overall footwear category’s GMV in the US but is growing much faster than footwear itself!

Growth rate of athletic footwear market in USA

Based on activity, we can slice the athletic footwear market into Sports, Aerobic/Gym, Running/Walking and Hiking/Trekking. By volume, the highest number of shoes sold were attributed to the Running and Walking sub-segment due to the daily usage and wide variety of choices available at affordable price points, followed by Sports, Aerobic/Gym, and finally Hiking/Trekking.

Athletic footwear market share in USA by activity(usage)


The sports shoe segment can further be segmented on the basis of sport into baseball, football, basketball, etc. In the US, baseball shoes contributed to more than 35% of overall athletic footwear by volume due to the high popularity of the sport.

Source: Grand View Research


Men’s athletic footwear accounts for 60% of the industry’s GMV, followed by Women’s (25%) and Kids’ (15%). Unlike the traditional athletic apparel and footwear industry, the activewear industry (influenced by the athleisure trend) has larger mindshare among women.

US Athletic footwear market share by gender


Source: Grand View Research


Athletic footwear Industry Outlook


Growth drivers of Athletic Footwear market


There is a general rising awareness about the health benefits of sports and fitness activities and how they can help in reducing the risks of illnesses like depression, diabetes, obesity, etc. In fact, Obesity is a major health issue in developed countries, such as the US and Europe, with one out of three persons being obese. So it doesn’t come as a surprise that the regional populace is focused on activities such as yoga, gym, and jogging.


In the developing countries, an increase in disposable income, growing youth population, and rapidly spreading awareness about health, fitness, and sporting events, is fueling the demand for comfortable, innovative and affordable athletic products. 


People are also increasingly realizing the importance of using appropriate types of shoes for sports activities in order to prevent muscle injuries, leg injuries, knee pain, hip pain, and back pain. As a result, the demand for athletic shoes is expected to register a surge in the coming years. 


Challenges of Athletic Footwear market


Rising prices of raw materials, counterfeiting of goods and competition from Athleisure brands are noteworthy challenges. In fact, NPD says that athleisure accounts for roughly 50% of all athletic footwear sales and only 16% of people who bought sports footwear in the year ending April 2019 were intending to wear them for sports! 


In some countries, growing levels of the geriatric population are expected to restrain the growth of the market. 


The middle-class population is generally price-sensitive in nature, which may bring down overall revenue. There’s a chance this can be offset by the growing income levels and fitness populace in APAC.


Analysis of key players of Athletic Footwear market


Nike is clearly the market leader of the athletic footwear market. In the US, it has a market share of 36%. Jordan and Converse, both owned by Nike, are among the top players too, with a market share of 16% and 3.5% respectively. Therefore, Nike’s total share of the market is almost 56%! 


It has consistently focused on market penetration by launching innovative sports footwear for its varied consumer base. Moreover, the company has focused on strengthening its foothold in developing countries such as India and China by launching products at affordable prices.


Per PipeCandy’s estimates, there are over 38,000 brands that sell athletic footwear online.

Of these 38,000+ brands, we analyzed a sample of 4,000 brands to see how they are distributed by Web Sales, Shopping Cart and Shipping Volume.

US Athletic footwear market by Shipping Volume

At Least 95% of the brands make <1M in web sales!


58% of the brands ship fewer than 100 orders a year, reflecting that the majority of the brands are long-tail, up and coming brands that are yet to make their mark in the athletic footwear scene. 

US athletic footwear market by Shopping cart distribution


A little more than 30% of the brands operate their stores on Shopify.


Apart from the sample of 4,000 brands, we also picked out the key players that are being spoken about online and classified them into Legacy, Top, and Local brands based on their revenue and scale of international presence.


Tier Revenue Brands
Legacy >$10B Adidas, NIKE
Top $1B-$10B PUMA, ASICS, Under Armour, New Balance, SKECHERS
Local <$1B Saucony, K-Swiss, Brooks Sports, Nfinity Athletic, FILA


Then, we analyzed their key performance metrics such as Web traffic, Dwell time on the website, Share of mobile web traffic, and Instagram engagement rates, among other things.


  1. The audience looking up for athletic footwear is primarily Men. Men make up about 52% of the audience across all three tiers.


    1. In the Top category, SKECHERS is more popular among Women.
    2. In the Local category, Brooks Sports is equally popular between Men and Women. 
    3. A little over 50% of search interest for Nfinity and Fila comes from Women, unlike all the other brands.

US Athletic Footwear Market analysis by user engagement

  1. On average, most customers spend a minimum of 2.5 minutes and a maximum of 4 minutes on these brand websites. This shows that most customers know exactly what they are looking for and that the assortment of athletic footwear brands has become specialized enough to give consumers a clear choice. Generally speaking, Legacy brands, which offer categories in addition to footwear, have a longer dwell time, by 27-56 seconds.


  1. All three tiers drive nearly comparable percentages of mobile web traffic.


  1. On average, Local brands drive 16% more paid search traffic than Legacy and Top brands.


  1. Top brands drive more engagement on Instagram than the Legacy and Local segments


    1. New Balance emerges the category leader among Top brands, driving around 290% more engagement than the category average! 
    2. Nike emerges the leader in the Legacy category, beating the category average by 49%
    3. In the Local category, Nfinity drives 144% more engagement than the category average.



The global athletic footwear market is predicted to be worth $131.7B by 2022, at the current CAGR of 5%. The APAC market is hot; China and India in particular, two countries with the largest millennial demographic, are emerging as athletic footwear hotspots. Growth in developed countries is slowing down, due to competition from emerging D2C brands such as All birds, rising price points of athletic footwear due to inflated costs of raw materials, and counterfeiting issues – remember Nike pulling out of Amazon? Sales expansion through online channels, innovative product drops/launches, improvements in manufacturing tech that have reduced the time to market and attractive marketing and promotional strategies adopted by companies continue to contribute to the growth of the athletic footwear market.