On this episode, we speak to Matt Powell, the Vice President and Senior Industry Advisor for the NPD Sports Group. With over 40 years of experience in the retail and research industry, Matt has counseled many of the world’s largest brands including Nike, adidas, Under Armour, Foot Locker, Walmart, and everything in between. The NPD group is one of the world’s largest research firms and a leader in sports data.

Matt shared stats on industry bright spots despite COVID-19 including brands doing well like HOKA ONE ONE® and On Running. He also shared his thoughts on the future of retail and how brands are stepping up and responding to social injustices in America today.


Podcast Highlights

2:45 – NPD and industry trends during COVID: “NPD is a global market research firm and we cover 20 different industries. The cycling business is absolutely off the charts right now. Home fitness is really good because obviously people can’t or won’t go to the gym. You can’t buy a kettlebell.”

5:00 – The current state of the sneaker and footwear industry: “The sneaker business is terrible, through April the active wear business for the most part was terrible. The only footwear business that was any good for March and April were slippers.”

7:09 – The sneaker resale market: “I think there’s also going to be a need to reassure the customer that the products they’re buying are safe. That they’ve been sanitized in some way and don’t carry the virus.”

8:27 – Running industry numbers during COVID: “The run numbers are bad, but not as bad as the rest of the market. I think when we come out of this, we’re going to see a real change though. I think consumers are going to be more practical in their purchases. I think they’re not going to buy frivolous fashion.”

11:00 – Is Twitter sobering or intoxicating?: “It’s been uplifting from the point of view, that the response of companies and the response of some enlightened politicians and city officials and so forth. On the other hand, there’s a lot of stupidity on Twitter and it’s just so frustrating.”

13:22 – Brands addressing racial inequality: “There are just so many ways that you can do the wrong thing, or you have been doing the wrong thing that didn’t occur to you. It’s just so revealing the behaviors that we think are benign or not so benign. I think many ways our industry has been more forward than other industries because of who our consumers are but there’s so much work to do. And again, you think you’re doing the right thing and then it turns out you’re not doing the right thing somewhere else.”

“I’ve been around this industry for a long time. I have never seen a greater emphasis on inclusivity and diversity. I think all of these things are fabulous and I really applaud the brands for what they’re doing and at the same time, they’re not doing enough.”

18:03 – Thoughts on Allbirds running shoe launch: “I think you’ve got to keep expanding the assortments out there. And I think the consumer wants freshness and newness very much.”

20:12 – Will malls die?: “I don’t see physical stores going away, but we have too many stores in the United States selling too much of the same stuff. A research came out this week and said, we’re going to close 25,000 doors this year and that was an all time record.”

22:05 – Gym industry post COVID: “The gyms will have to reassure their customers that the gym is safe and clean. And that means if you use a treadmill, somebody has to wipe that whole treadmill down before the next person can use it, that’s going to slow things down.”

24:02 – Sentiment from brand leaders and CEOs in the industry: “I think everybody’s cautiously optimistic. The early stores that have opened have been really mixed.”