When it comes to sales, it looks like basketball apparel and shoes are no longer the MVP.
Sales of the Curry 3 — the newest shoe in Under Armour’s much-lauded collaboration with basketball superstar Steph Curry — are already looking questionable, indicating that some of the trouble Nike is experiencing with basketball shoes has made its way to UA.
Unlike the Curry 1 and Curry 2, the 3 is off to a slow start, according to Foot Locker CEO Dick Johnson.
“The 3.0 is fairly new into the business — it started off a bit slower than the two previous models,” Johnson said in a conference call discussing the latest earnings report.
Though Under Armour has been experiencing stellar growth in its newly expanded shoe collection — up 42% last quarter year over year — it seems that a star athlete sponsorship and good product are not enough to stem the tides of trends turning sharply away from performance basketball footwear.
Looking at the tea leaves, UA may have expected this. Nike’s basketball category — what most consider a core business for the swoosh, it accounts for roughly 5% of Nike’s total sales — was down 1% in wholesale sales for fiscal year 2016.
In the current trend now — retro and lifestyle running — performance basketball is being left behind.
“We’re very much in a retro fashion cycle today,” NPD Group analyst Matt Powell told Marketplace. “Millennials are really flocking to wearing old-school looks.”
While Nike’s Jordan brand, which experienced growth, may seem like an exception to this rule, on closer inspection it is anything but. Jordan wholesale sales grew 18% in 2016 when compared to 2015, but nearly half of Jordan sales — both sneakers and apparel — can be attributed to their retro lifestyle-oriented sneakers, according to Powell.
Adidas, now the number-two sneaker seller in the US, is affected less than Nike and Under Armour by this trend, as basketball accounts for a smaller figure of their overall sneaker sales. But even then, the company admits that “basketball grew at a slower rate,” according to the latest earnings report.