Welcome to the Podiatry Arena forums

You are currently viewing our podiatry forum as a guest which gives you limited access to view all podiatry discussions and access our other features. By joining our free global community of Podiatrists and other interested foot health care professionals you will have access to post podiatry topics (answer and ask questions), communicate privately with other members, upload content, view attachments, receive a weekly email update of new discussions, access other special features. Registered users do not get displayed the advertisements in posted messages. Registration is fast, simple and absolutely free so please, join our global Podiatry community today!

  1. Everything that you are ever going to want to know about running shoes: Running Shoes Boot Camp Online, for taking it to the next level? See here for more.
    Dismiss Notice
  2. Have you considered the Critical Thinking and Skeptical Boot Camp, for taking it to the next level? See here for more.
    Dismiss Notice
  3. Have you considered the Clinical Biomechanics Boot Camp Online, for taking it to the next level? See here for more.
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Have you considered the Clinical Biomechanics Boot Camp Online, for taking it to the next level? See here for more.
Dismiss Notice
Have you liked us on Facebook to get our updates? Please do. Click here for our Facebook page.
Dismiss Notice
Do you get the weekly newsletter that Podiatry Arena sends out to update everybody? If not, click here to organise this.

Sales of minimalist running shoes continue to decline

Discussion in 'Biomechanics, Sports and Foot orthoses' started by Craig Payne, May 31, 2013.

  1. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator


    Members do not see these Ads. Sign Up.
    For those who missed the memo in early May:
    The above data was for the first quarter sales in the USA. Now the next set of figures is out. For the last 13 weeks:
    *Running shoes +11%
    *Minimalist/Barefoot running (net of Nike Free) -14%
    *Motion control +30%, Stability +6% and Cushioning +8%

    I blogged here about the above data from Matt Powell at SportsOneSource
  2. I wonder how the minimalist only running shoe stores are faring? Mark Cuccazzella has one in West Virginia.
  3. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    I have no doubt, minimalist shoes and minimalist stores will always be with us, but as a small niche market. They are not taking over the real world - they did take over the virtual world, giving the impression that they were the only running shoes that existed.

    Runners have voted with their feet. It was a fad and not a trend.
  4. Dana Roueche

    Dana Roueche Well-Known Member

    Craig, I agree with your assessment about being a niche market.

    Don't forget about the large portion of the "real" world that runs in the shoes in the attached pictures. I'm not sure those people got the memo yet.

    Attached Files:

  5. toomoon

    toomoon Well-Known Member

    Dana, are you serious??.. I am pretty sure they do not own a car either.. or a toaster.. or a hairdryer, washing machine, electric toothbrush, computer, stereo, electric guitar and amp, printer, fax, modem.
    These are just a few of the things in my line of site right now as I write this.
    Have you ever met any of the Kenyan or Ethiopian runners Dana???.. sat down and had a chat with them?
    I have.. lots of them.. a great privilege I must say, and even the guys who are not sponsored..IMMEDIATELY go out and buy 'traditional' running shoes to train in as soon as they have earned some money from their God given talents. I have sat down and spoken with these guys Dana, and every single one of them thinks anyone running barefoot or in minimalist footwear, unless they are committed to that by poverty.. is out of their tiny mind. This fad is a reflection of pampered western societies who can afford to experiment.
    That said, the benefits of less is more continue to be recognised at the elite and sub elite level just as they have been for close to 50 years.
  6. Dana Roueche

    Dana Roueche Well-Known Member

    Simon, again you've missed my point entirely. Take a deep breath and relax.

    The photo on the right was taken of a man indigenous to a part of the world that is on the opposite side of the globe as Africa. I personally witnessed 18 of these people who were given new, $110 goretex lined shoes, take those shoes off after 13 miles and use their tire tread sandals in favor for the remainder of a 100 mile run.

    I frankly don't care what you call the change in interest in lightweight shoes. My point in this discussion as it has been in other discussions is that lightweight running shoes have existed for a long time. Lightweight shoes have been worn in many forms and lightweight shoes have been worn by many cultures.

    Regardless of what has been assessed by podiatrists, surveys or studies. Regardless of what has been written on the Internet, lightweight shoes will continue to be used by runners who prefer to wear lightweight shoes for running.

    You again went off on a rant that missed the point. Before being so hasty to get all wound up, it might be helpful to actually think for a second about what someone is trying to say.
  7. wdd

    wdd Well-Known Member

    I wonder how the minimalist only running shoe stores are faring?

    We are re-naming and rebranding and will shortly (as soon as people have forgotten about minimalist running shoes or at least enough time has lapsed to activate that sense of nostalgia) be reopening as 'NO SHOES'.

    'No Shoes'. Shoes in a can. When you need them you simply spray them on. A bit like 'No Nails' but shoes or to be more exact 'No Shoes' if you get my drift.

    The King is in the altogether all the way to the bank!

    Every failure is another opportunity for financial success. Just recognise that some products are going to have a shorter life cycle than others.
  8. drsha

    drsha Banned

    I don't think anyone ever believed that minimalistic shoes would ever become a market leader.

    1. There will be a small "cultish" goup that will wear hueraches remaining.

    2. The lightweight and lower heeled shoes have to some extent been revitalized due to the minimalistic influence.

    3. There are some positive things that came from thinking minimalistically.

    If biomechanics was so perfectly understood and practiced, there would be no reason for theorists to look for replacements.

  9. Dana Roueche

    Dana Roueche Well-Known Member

    For the past several years when discussing minimal shoes, there have been a lot of podiatrists claiming that their business has never done better. Injured runners have been lining up in droves, flocks and hoards. Now that the minimal shoe fad has been determined to be dead, I wonder how these offices are now faring? Can anyone fill us in?
  10. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    Not true. There was a large online community that were predicting the demise of foot orthotics, podiatry and motion control shoes.....the opposite has happened.

    Look what has happened in the last 6 months:
    - minimalist shoes sales have plummeted; motion control and cushioning are up.
    - the two most recent studies of injury rates have shown no difference in injury rates
    - the 5 most recent studies of running economy have show no advantages to minimalist shoes
    - the most recent biomechanical studies are not really showing any great advantages (the most recent shows heel striking is more efficient)
    - almost all the mainstream media headlines in the last 6 or so months have been negative towards barefoot minimalism

    The fad is well and truly over. The fat lady has sung.
  11. Dana Roueche

    Dana Roueche Well-Known Member

    Craig, should everyone be visiting a podiatrist, getting fitted for orthotics and buying motion control shoes?

    The sales data you are referencing is from one source, SportsOneSource. Not to debate their data or interpretation but there is a lot of room for interpretation such as the stores they include generally have people who buy running shoes for fashion rather than for running, whatever. No argument from me, I don't care, just pointing it out.

    There is another source that gathers running shoe data, Leisure Trends Group, that polls running specialty stores. While I'm sure running specific stores sell running shoes to people who intend on using them for casual wear, their customer set might be different than a general sporting goods store. The people working in a specialty store might also have a different level of experience than the clerks in a general sporting goods store. Both may influence sales data.

    The data from Leisure Trends Group is the following for Feb 2013 as compared to Feb of the prior year:

    Stability: 20 million dollars (-7%)

    Neutral/Cushion: 18 million dollars (-8%)

    Minimalist: 4 million dollars (+2%)

    Motion Control: 2 million dollars (-23%)

    Race Shoes: 2 million dollars (+7%)

    Trail Shoes: 1 million dollars (-25%)

    So we have two sets of data that are telling us two different things. My point which I'll spell out in order to not be misunderstood is that by hanging your hat on a single survey might lead you to the wrong conclusion. You have spent a lot of time gathering information, I'm sure you came across the Leisure Trends Group data. Is there a reason you've omitted sharing that?

    It really doesn't matter to me what people are running in or buying for casual wear. Since I currently own enough pairs of running shoes to last me for the next 15 years without buying any new pairs, it really doesn't matter to me what the current sales trend is. I essentially own what I will be running in for a very long time. 15 yrs from now, I will be 71. At that point I hope I'm still running, who knows by then I may be running in slippers and a bathrobe by then.

    To the extent that the trends in running and running shoes help the podiatry industry, I wish you the best and that those trends go in your favor. Just be careful what you wish for.
  12. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    I have NEVER suggested that. Where are you getting that from?
    The SoS data is much more recent; covers the first quarter of 2013 and the last 13 weeks (obviously there is an overlaping of those time periods.
    The decline only started happening in that quarter so the Leisure Trends data would not have picked it up.
  13. drsha

    drsha Banned

    Not true..
    The barefoot community was never large. Vocal and internet savvy but never large.

    My concern with you (as the biased owner of The Podiatry Arena and its editor) is that you look to stifle, destroy and defame new and old ideas and theories related to biomechanics that are against your relatively unproven version. You look to reduce the power of evidence that surfaces in their favor. You look to foster the fat ladies song as in this case.

    Do you remember the slide at one of your biomechanics boot camps years ago that showed Homer Simpson at the controls of a nuclear power plant which you referenced to me!!! I haven't forgotten. Similar to Simon's dinosaur referenced slide.

    In addition, you look to foster promote, teach, research and publish regarding new ideas and theories related to biomechanics that relate positively to your unproven version. You elevate the importance and relevance of research that surfaces in your favor little of which has.

    There has been little to no evidence in support of your antiquated, stale, hard to teach, steeped in difficult language and the new words that you have made up version of biomechanics in the three years that I have called for it on this site. ALMOST NONE.
    What have you published lately Craig (lets say the last three years) as you call for research from me? What about you Simon or Kevin or Robert or ....?

    I know, you're too busy finding new advertisers, new internet sites, new converts, new students, new patients, new lecture halls as you profit from all of this.

    My suggestion, for a while, if you truly are the philanthropic person you claim to be, is that if you have nothing nice to say about new ideas and theories that look to change, modify or eliminate yours, don't say anything here on The Arena and let some of the good things that can and will come of them blossom.

    As editor, you allow me (and others) to personally be vilified even to the point of calling for my ban on this site, physical harm and now, Fuller calling for an ignore button while claiming to be fostering biomechanics, science, Newton et al.
    Shame on you all.

  14. admin

    admin Administrator Staff Member

  15. David Wedemeyer

    David Wedemeyer Well-Known Member

    Dana can you show me the link you found that data on please?
  16. Dana Roueche

    Dana Roueche Well-Known Member

    David, sure.


    This data as well as the data from Sports One Source capture sales rather than what the shoes are actually used for, casual vs running. Sports One Source surveys sporting goods stores while Leisure trends surveys running specialty stores. It is possible that the demographics of the sporting goods store customer might be different than the demographics from the the specialty store. It is possible that the propensity to use the shoes for their intended purpose, running, might be different in the two surveys.

    It would be interesting to see what model shoes are actually in each category. I find it really confusing when a categories like trail shoes are included because they over lap with other categories. There are minimal trail shoes, stability trail shoes, cushioned trail shoes and so on. Does a minimal trail shoe go in the minimal category or the trail shoe category? Why aren't racing flats included with the minimal category? Where is the lightweight/performance category? Why did SOS exclude Nike Free from the minimal category? I can understand excluding the Free 5.0, was Free Run but the Free 3.0 is a minimal shoe and should be included in the minimal category.

    There are a lot of issues that can really sway the results of both surveys. Having two surveys taken at roughly the same time yet with different results demonstrates the fact that there is a lot of built in variation. Because of that, their value is limited.
  17. Dr. Steven King

    Dr. Steven King Well-Known Member


    I have agreed with Kevin and other track runners on this site that the current barefoot movement is a continuation of past technologies (racing flats and Chuck Talors/Keds) and that many shoe company marketing and design departments have spiffed up the concept to resell old tech.

    It will be interesting to see how the market responds to maximalist shoes with a goal of maximal energy efficiency, maximal stability and maximal foot protection.

    This trend is currently occuring through the use of advanced composite materials (carbon fiber) and simple machine biomechanics. The O & P industry has been leading in this field thus far with Olympic runners competing on composite limbs and gait systems.

    This trend will tend to take longer to be accepted due to the increase in material and production costs and the greater need for better consumer education. The trend will also last longer because its a good idea...

    A Hui Hou,
  18. Really? Can you point to any of the major players in running shoe manufacture who are currently incorporating composite materials into their road running shoes, Steven? Or, will you just continue to spout the same old, same old in an attempt to further your own cause ad infitum? Boring, naive and callow. Yawn. Do you have any alternative tracks, like a B side or something?
  19. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

  20. Dana Roueche

    Dana Roueche Well-Known Member

  21. blinda

    blinda MVP

    Or anything by Motörhead?
  22. blinda

    blinda MVP

    I missed this as I`ve been scraping, drilling, sanding and painting most evenings and weekends....

    Made my weekend. Cheers, Craig:drinks
  23. Boots n all

    Boots n all Well-Known Member

    And that statement sums up the minimalist shoe movement perfectly - "fashion" and now its out of fashion, l wonder what will be next...
  24. Dana Roueche

    Dana Roueche Well-Known Member

    David, the statement sums up the entire running shoe industry perfectly.

    While the trail running shoe was enjoying it's popularity, I'm not sure anyone was able to predict the focus would shift to minimal shoes. Although, you can split minimal shoes into either minimal trail shoes or minimal road shoes. I haven't read about anyone predicting what's next.

    There is certainly an underlying trend in the running shoe industry that is a part of all categories and that I find somewhat alarming, the ever increasing price tag for new models. Running shoes are getting so expensive that it has to also be influencing the buying decision.
  25. Paul Bowles

    Paul Bowles Well-Known Member

    That statement is a bit rich considering Vibram were charging $199 AUD for a shoe that was meant to replicate running barefoot in........which costs $0AUD? Go figure :)
  26. Brian A. Rothbart

    Brian A. Rothbart Active Member

    Question - it seems that this thread implies that a common cause of injuries sustained by runners is linked to the type of foot wear (or lack of foot wear) used when running? If that is the case, I disagree with that assumption.

    I have found that it is not the type of footwear (or absence of footwear) that is a primary cause of the common musculoskeletal injuries I see in runners. More specifically, it is the foot pathomechanics that predisposes the athlete to potential injuries.

    If the athlete is blessed with linear (normal/or whatever other term you would like to use) mechanics - he/she can run in almost any type shoe, or without shoes, with a much lower probability of injury, then

    An athletes born with foot pathomechanics. That athlete will be at higher risk for running linked injuries, no matter what type of footwear they use (maximist/minimalist) or running barefooted.

    I suggest the thrust of this discussion should shift to the question - what are the most common causes of foot pathomechanics seen in runners? Once that question is answered, I believe the issues regarding running shoes will become self apparent.

    Professor Brian
  27. Paul Bowles

    Paul Bowles Well-Known Member

    How can you disagree with that assumption when simple changes in footwear alone can improve performance and reduce injury rates for specific athletes?

    There are multiple variables - footwear is simply one of them!

    I'm pretty sure all if not most of us would concur that it is "force" relationships which are the common cause of musculoskeletal injury. Foot pathomechanics is simply one variable related to this.

    You are suggesting all foot pathomechanics is congenital and not acquired? Personally I would disagree and state that both play a large role, especially in terms of environmental effect on development.

    The answer to that question is simple - Musculoskeletal injury risk is relative to abnormal force taken/distributed by tissue. Does that make us closer to understanding the original question? Yes. Does it stop the barefoot/minimalist movement propogating their ill conceived and evidence lacking theories on injury and footwear? No!
  28. Brian A. Rothbart

    Brian A. Rothbart Active Member

    Hi Paul,

    Your comments are well taken.

    However, I did not state, nor do I believe, that all instances of foot pathomechanics are congenital. For example severe trauma, neurological and infectious diseases (just to mention a few) can all result in foot pathomechanics.

    I believe the factors leading to running injuries (e.g., mileage, diet, conditioning, shoe gear, changes in force distribution in tissue) are multifactorial. However, I believe most running injuries have a primary etiology. This is what I have observed in my clinical practice over the past 40+ years.

    Changes in foot wear incorporating cants, heel lifts etc can change tissue-force distributions, which in turn can ameliorate or exacerbate symptoms. But I suggest spending more time discussing the possible causes for those changes in force mechanics.

    Professor Brian
  29. Paul Bowles

    Paul Bowles Well-Known Member

    Good to hear! They had good intentions....

    Prof Brian Stated:

    "he/she can run in almost any type shoe, or without shoes, with a much lower probability of injury, then An athletes born with foot pathomechanics."

    I must have misunderstood - apologies.

  30. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    Here are the June 2013 figures and commentary from SoS:
  31. Dr. Steven King

    Dr. Steven King Well-Known Member

    Aloha Craig,

    The sales of minimalist shoes may be waining but a short study on the studies performed and abstracts submitted in our most recent issue of Footwear Science "Procedings of the Eleventh Footwear Biomechanics Symposium" ( Natal, Brazil 2013) of our Footwear Biomechanics Group of the International Society of Biomechanics paints a different picture.

    Of the 92 abstracts presented the June 2013 edtion 20 of them were related to barefoot minimalist running. Index page numbers (S2, S10, S14, S17, S26, S31, S33, S48, S52, S61, S65, S79, S100, S106, S113, S129, S132, S138, S141, S143

    3 of the 92 were related to "maximalism". (S37, S41, S109)

    1 great abstract on S11 about Quantifying the physical and functional Characteristics of footwear... many of the abstracts did not metion footwear or the carbon fiber plastes tested in great enough depth IMHO.

    Thanks to the CLEAR folks on a nice abstract on AFO ballance improvement S119.

  32. Dr. Steven King

    Dr. Steven King Well-Known Member


    If i may add a few more points?

    Perhaps more studies could provide the bending stiffness stats of shoes and insoles like folks did with abstract S23.

    Perhaps more studies should be performed on Stress Fractures like abstracts S122 and S123 (with great sample sizes !) because it is a very important subject maybe even more important than Barefoot Running or minimalist footwear...

  33. Dana Roueche

    Dana Roueche Well-Known Member

    The Nike Free, especially the 3.0 is a minimal shoe. Since there are no standard set of measurements that define a minimal shoe, it could be argued that the Nike Free 4.0 and 5.0 should be considered minimal shoes as well. What is the intent of the design of the Nike Free? To allow the foot to move and flex as if it was not restricted by a shoe. NIke describes each model in terms of level of "natural and barefoot-like feel", Nike's words, not mine. Here is a quote taken right from the Nike site:

    "After learning that Stanford athletes had been training barefoot on the university's golf course, three of Nike's most innovative and creative employees set out to develop a shoe that felt natural and weightless, similar to bare feet." Sounds like a minimal shoe to me. Sounds like "barefoot concept" as well.

    Does anyone know why SoS has elected to exclude Nike Free from the minimal shoe category? Does anyone know what category they are included in? Does anyone know the numbers for Nike Free and how the totals would look if they were classified according to the intended purpose of their design? Without having answers to these questions, the survey is useless.

    SoS can do whatever they want with their data, I just find it really curious how they treat Nike Free and since they make a point of mentioning that they are excluding Nike Free from the minimal category they must feel there is a bit of controversy about how they've classified Nike Free.

    Without seeing what category SoS has assigned to each model of running shoe, I find the survey completely useless. There are many models of shoes that can fit across multiple categories but who knows how SoS defined them. For example, where does SoS classify minimal trail shoes? In the minimal or trail shoe category?

    Sure, it makes sense that after all of the excitement and fanfare, after people have had a chance to try minimal shoes even though they are the wrong shoe for them, you should expect sales to settle down between categories. Because fashion has such a strong influence on running shoe sales, sales data across running shoe categories will never truly reflect the actual shoe type requirements for the specific activity of running across individuals who do run.

    The comment about Under Armour is interesting. They have recently come out with a some "lightweight performance" models. Some would fit in the minimal category, some in between minimal and cushioned. Has Under Armour's sales improved because they got into minimal shoes? Who knows how SoS categorized them.

    I would agree that a real positive out of all of this is that all of the interest in minimal shoes has pushed the shoe companies into developing a lot of options in the 8 to 10 oz range for a US mens size 9. The typical target weight for a traditional shoe used to be 12 oz.

    It is pretty obvious that running shoe companies have been able to blow past the $100 barrier in the US for most of their models. What I find completely distressing is that most shoe companies market a model that is pushing at the $200 mark. It is very common to see most of the high end models in the $169 to $199 range. Which I find totally abusive. Good thing shoe companies update their models and colors every 6 to 12 months. It lends itself to a robust close-out market that allows the consumer to buy last season's color for less than half the list price.
  34. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    They exclude Nike Free from the reporting of the category as most are not used for running. They report the Nike free data separately.

    The data is not useless, as the methodology used to collect data in each category has remained unchanged for yrs, so trends in categories are apparent. If they changed methodology, the data would be useless, as changes in figures in categories would be artificial.
  35. Dana Roueche

    Dana Roueche Well-Known Member

    How do they know most of Nike Free is not used for running? Do they have data to back that up? Sounds like speculation to me. Since SoS is collecting sales data there will be a portion of sales that are not used for running. Since they are collecting sales data from general sporting goods stores, there is a probability that the portion of running shoe sales not used for running may even be greater than if they collected the data from running specialty stores that actually target runners as their primary customer. Is SoS excluding all shoes not used for running from their data? If not, they are being inconsistent with their data.

    Yes it is important to maintain a consistent methodology when showing trends. They can't partially exclude data and maintain integrity of their analysis. If you are going to exclude data, you need to be consistent. You can't just pick one line of RUNNING shoes and exclude them. They either need to include sales of ALL running shoes or exclude ALL sales of shoes not purchased for running. One or the other, not a mix that includes some models and excludes others. That just doesn't make sense. Show all Sales or all use, not some sales and some use. Since they can't determine what shoes are being sold for running and what shoes are being sold for casual wear, the only sound method would be to include all shoes and simply measure the sales of all running shoes.

    They are violating a principal of basic statistical analysis, consistency. If they think it is important to exclude Nike Free from the data, then simply show it both ways.

    Since the SoS analysis excludes the most popular minimal shoe on the market I am not confident in how they've defined a minimal shoe to begin with. Where do they put racing flats and minimal trail shoes? What is a minimal shoe? Do they define it anywhere? Is it all shoes that weigh less than some predetermined amount? Is there some other definition? Are they making other data exclusions?

    I don't care if minimal shoes make up 4% or 40% of the market. It just blows me away that someone collecting SALES data can arbitrarily exclude some of the SALES data because they don't like how they are ultimately going to be used. Makes no sense at all and it blows me away how someone can screw up a piece of analysis as simple as this. What doesn't surprise me is that people actually take at face value.
  36. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    The Q2 figures just out. Snippets via @mattSOS :
  37. Dr. Steven King

    Dr. Steven King Well-Known Member

    "Since the SoS analysis excludes the most popular minimal shoe on the market I am not confident in how they've defined a minimal shoe to begin with. Where do they put racing flats and minimal trail shoes? What is a minimal shoe? Do they define it anywhere? Is it all shoes that weigh less than some predetermined amount? Is there some other definition? Are they making other data exclusions? "


    It is our fault for not being able to test the functional differences of these foam shoes to the degree to be able to tell the footwear industry of our recommendations and standards.

    Like with marketings departments future use of the term "maximalism" . This term must be used only when the footwear is designed to include significant enhanced safety designs such as puncture protection.!

    Your Local Foot Doctor
  38. NewsBot

    NewsBot The Admin that posts the news.

  39. toomoon

    toomoon Well-Known Member

  40. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    Here is the latest USA figures, covering the 8 wk period mid july to mid-Sept:
    via sportsonesource.com

Share This Page