Kayla Marci

December 20, 2021

New Year New Gear - Is Now The Best Time To Buy Sneakers?

Considerations before you treat yourself to a fresh gym ‘fit in 2022.

You've made it through Black Friday and Christmas is just around the corner. Right now, your inbox is flooded with emails promoting party dresses and high heels (we know this because EDITED analyzes communications from more than 2,500 brands worldwide.) You don't have to be a Retail Buyer to know what's coming next. Yep, as January rolls around, it's all about activewear.

It's the time where consumers' wallets really get a workout. Despite its year-round appeal and the rise of at-home exercise, more activewear was sold in January than any other month. We've got the data to prove it. 

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As the year winds down, you get inundated with outfit promotions for more activities than your ClassPass can offer. Traditionally, they were accompanied by the detox mentality of entering a new year. As healthy lifestyles have evolved beyond diet culture, retailers have (thankfully) abandoned January 1st's cringe catchphrase of “new year, new me.” 

So while the new year may be the ideal time to deck yourself out in new activewear, the ever-changing retail landscape could throw a wrench in the works. Prices may spike for those performance sneakers you were planning to purchase for an upcoming marathon. Or make that go-to buttery-soft unlined sports bra you lying in Shavasana much harder to come by. 

Here’s why:

Supply chain issues aren’t expected to ease until mid-2022
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Twitter: Madison Morris

Whatever your industry, you’re sure to have heard about the ongoing supply chain challenges plaguing the movement of goods throughout the world. While high shopping demand and early purchasing ahead of the holiday season have been major contributors, global vaccine inequality and the rise of Omicron will add to the strain on factories in 2022. 

Experts are predicting these issues will carry well into the new year, making it harder for retailers to restock SKU-intensive categories, such as bras and footwear. The latter faces huge bottlenecks and delays due to factory closures and raw material shortages of plastic, nylon and mesh. 

Already feeling the effects, Nike recently advised its third-party stockists that the Holiday 2021 until Summer 2022 shipments would be canceled. It has also limited the number of Air Force 1s customers can purchase -  and while no reason behind this has been confirmed, the internet has theorized supply chain backlogs have played a significant role.

For some, supply chain delays can be the perfect excuse not to make a new year fitness resolution. For others, it means upgrading your favorite workout attire just got a bit more complicated and expensive.

The price of performance sneakers is at a two-year high

Activewear is a standout category for retailers to invest in sustainable innovation, especially for sneakers, aiding price inflation. This year alone, Rens launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund its running shoes made from coffee waste and recycled plastic, while Allbirds and adidas released their long-awaited Futurecraft.Footprint, their lowest carbon shoe to date, made with 2.94kg CO2 a pair.

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Image via Allbirds & adidas

Currently, performance sneakers are more expensive than in pre-pandemic times - an 11% increase vs. 2019 in the US and 7% in the UK. Additionally, raw material and shipping costs are projected to remain bloated in the New Year, contributing to retailers marking up prices. Even outside the activewear market, insatiable demand for streetwear sent sneaker prices skyrocketing, and the burgeoning resale market has led to the price of luxury sneakers on Vestiaire Collective increase 22% vs. 2019. Prices are slated to continue to creep further up before they come down, making now a better time than ever to click “add to cart.”

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January sales are fizzling out

Since the 2008 Global Financial Crisis (GFC), year-round discounts have become commonplace in retail, removing the need for regimented promotional periods and adding to our addiction to getting things at a reduced price any time.

This shift has seen events like Black Friday become less impactful, with the hangover from the event still felt across category discounts. For sports bras, 59% of styles available across pure play active and mass market brands are marked down and the average discount depth is 48%. That’s a lot of savings compared to the pre-pandemic period, where 49% of sports bras were reduced and the average reduction rate was a shallower 44% in 2019.  

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Blush Lingerie Email US - Dec 8, 2021

With these drawn-out discounts, January is becoming more of a time to promote newness rather than discount what’s leftover from previous years. Last year, we analyzed the emails from over 500 retailers spanning the US and UK. Our research revealed the word “new” was used 17% more than the word “sale.”

Regardless of supply chain challenges, retailers will be wanting to leave behind 2021 and the product that arrived with it. So if you were waiting for January sales to nab a new sports bra, you probably won’t get a better deal. If you want to save on activewear, the time to shop is now. 

EDITED customers can log in to read the trends defining activewear in the new year.

Be sure to sign up to our Insider Briefing for the first look at our activewear market analysis for 2022, due in January.