words_Nick DePaula

Once again, we're happy to offer up a look at the overall footwear sales landscape for the Back To School 2010 season.

With the help of SportsONESource Analyst Matt Powell, we have a detailed breakdown of the latest industry statistics from one of the year's biggest buying times, as well as the latest trends in footwear sales and market share position. Some key highlights include strong showings for both Nike Basketball and Skechers, while Under Armour footwear continues to decline across the board. Dive in and read along!

Below, enjoy the following insights from Matt Powell himself, with key notes in bold, as he takes a look at overall footwear sales for the Back To School 2010 season, defined as the 8 week period from the fiscal weeks ending 7/25 to 9/12:

***

Back to School is the most important event of the year for Sport Footwear. While the biggest weeks of the year occur around Christmas (Thanks, gift cards!), the 8 weeks of Back to School are the largest period of the year, representing 20% of annual sales.

Back to School 2010 for Sport Footwear was the strongest we have seen in years. Sales grew in the high singles in dollars and in the low singles in units, yielding a mid single digit improvement in average selling price. Dollar sales for sport footwear in Back to School 2009 declined in the low singles. Sales were strongest at the mall, improving in the low teens.

All channels had a good Back to School. Sales of men's footwear grew in the high singles, while women's advanced in the low teens and kids declined in the low singles.

Top sellers for Back to School:

* Nike Air Force 1 Mid & Low for kids and adults

* Jordan Retro 9

* Jordan Retro 6

* Nike Shox Turbo+ 11

* Nike Land Shark football cleat

Two original Skechers Shape Ups made the list, with an average price of $83, down about -10% from the year's average. The key stories for Back to School were Lightweight Running and Toning, and to a lesser extent Jordan. These three factors accounted for all the growth.

Running sales improved more than 20% for the period, with Lightweight accounting for half that growth. Lightweight grew nearly 7 times and accounted for more than 10% of all Running sales. Nike Running grew more than 20% and held share at 61%. Nike has an 83% share in Lightweight. Adidas (4% share, -16%) and Under Armour (1.2%, -23%) were the only major brands to post declines.

The core Running brands all had nice improvement, although Asics slowed to +8%. Puma Running doubled, Reebok (2.3% share) saw sales grow 5 times on strong ZigTech results and KSwiss is starting to make some noise with Tubes.

Toning is clearly not a Back to School category, as it is aimed at moms, not kids. That said, Toning put up some strong numbers for the period. Toning sales grew 6 times for Back to School. However, it only represented 4% of overall sales, down from its yearly average of 5.5%. (We've seen a nice resurgence in Toning, post Back to School, as sales hit 5.5% of total last week.) The ill-fated price maintenance policies certainly caused some choppiness. Average selling price for Toning shoes were -7% for Back to School, when compared with the yearly average and down about -5% when compared with the same period one year ago, hardly the "rampant" promoting described elsewhere. It appears the reports of the demise of Toning are a tad premature.

Basketball had a solid Back to School with sales improving in the high singles. Brand Nike Basketball (20% share) grew nearly +20%, driven primarily by pricepoint styles like the Overplay ($39.99). Jordan Brand (74% share) grew in the high singles as the current releases are much improved from the summer months. Adidas basketball declined 13%, while And1 grew more than 20%.

The Casual categories continue to be a struggle. Lifestyle Fashion Athletic declined in the low singles. Nike Lifestyle declined about -20%, with most of the losses coming from Women's.

Skechers has still not seen any real halo effect from Toning, as Lifestyle sales declined in the high singles. Puma Lifestyle sales were flat. Classics declined in the high singles, with Nike down in the low teens. Adidas Classics sales were flat, while Converse and Reebok declined in the low teens. New Balance classics grew 3 times.

Skate sales declined nearly -25%, with every major brand except Vans posting declines.

Training improved in the high singles. Nike Training grew in the mid teens on pricepoint white footcovering and on a new women's style called Exceed ($55). New Balance Training grew more than 20% again on pricepoint footcovering. Under Armour Training declined nearly -25%. Cleated sales grew in the high singles. Nike Cleated expanded in the mid teens while Adidas grew in the low teens and Under Armour grew in the mid singles. Outdoor grew in the mid teens while sandals improved in the high singles.

Brand Nike sales grew in the high singles as strong Running, pricepoint Basketball and Training offset the lack of Toning and weakness in Casual categories. Brand Nike market share expanded 50 basis points to 37.7%. Jordan (10.2% share) sales grew in the low singles, reversing earlier declines. Converse sales declined in the low teens. Skechers sales improved almost 40% and share grew 130 basis points to 6.5%. Reebok sales grew by about two thirds and share expanded 115 basis points to 3.3%. Adidas sales declined in the low singles and share slumped to 5.3%. Asics grew in the high singles; New Balance grew sharply, as did the core Running brands (Saucony, Mizuno and Brooks). Under Armour sales declined in the low teens Puma sales grew by about a third, and Crocs by nearly half.