Sneaker resale platforms are setting expectations for the new year at a quickly-changing time for retail.
For many of these companies, 2021 was a banner year for sneaker resale, especially as consumers had stimulus cash to spend. Recently, however, some resellers have seen sales slow as shoppers cut back on spending due to inflation. This year, some resold Nike models went for less than they did in 2020. In 2022, global sneaker sales grew 2.7% year-over-year, down from a spike of 19.5% in 2021. Two-year-old Impossible Kicks has seen its revenue drop 10% year-over-year, although founder John Mocadlo says this is “in line or actually better than a lot of the retail brands” and that overall, “our customer has been exceptionally resilient against the decrease in discretionary spending.”
There is still demand for sneaker resale, especially as platforms pop up to cater to different needs, whether that’s unworn merchandise or gently-used shoes. Some marketplaces have stayed afloat by taking advantage of recent trends, including an interest in chunky “dad-style” sneakers and the rise of new collaborations. Here’s a look at what became popular in 2023 and what steps sneaker resellers are taking to ensure their businesses are in tip-top shape for 2024.
A run on running shoes
For years, Nike, Jordan and Adidas have dominated the sneaker resale world, especially with silhouettes as popular as the Dunk and Air Jordan. However, more sneakerheads are looking to add variety to their closets by purchasing old school running shoe brands.
In fact, New Balance is the number four brand on StockX right now, and sales of the brand are up 15% year-over-year at Impossible Kicks, Modern Retail has learned. Drew Haines, StockX’s director of sneakers and collectibles, attributes the large interest in New Balance to the success of new silhouettes, as well as buzzy collaborations with the likes of JJJJound and Aimé Leon Dore.
At Impossible Kicks, “New Balance has actually become a front runner” compared to brands like Yeezy, Mocadlo told Modern Retail.
However, if there’s one “breakout brand” that StockX’s Haines is looking out for in 2024, it’s Asics. Sales of Asics hit a new record on StockX in August, and “we are preparing to beat that again in October and expect to see more records in November and December,” Haines explained. Like New Balance, Asics has “done a really good job of using that collaboration playbook, but also introducing these models that the consumer wants [that are] comfortable,” Haines added. As of July, Asics’ sales on StockX were up 72% from a year prior.
Once-niche brands like Hoka, Salomon and On have also hit the mainstream and are seeing sales skyrocket. In July, On’s sales on StockX were up more than 15,000% year-over-year. The month after, On reported its sixth consecutive quarter of record net sales. Decker, Hoka’s parent company, raised its outlook for 2024 based on Hoka’s “brand momentum,” CEO Dave Powers said in July. Salomon has also gained traction due to celebrities like Rihanna wearing the brand.
Ultimately, running shoe brands that make well-constructed products and continue to innovate are maintaining momentum, the resale platforms told Modern Retail. In addition, they said, many people gravitated towards performance shoes during the pandemic, a trend that is likely to continue.
With only so much cash going around, “consumers are becoming a lot more choosy, and I think some of their tastes have changed as well,” Sky Canaves, senior analyst at Insider Intelligence, said. “I think the sneaker resale market is becoming a little more diversified.”
Comfort remains key
Resale platforms also expect more demand for cozy and comfortable shoes heading in the new year. Similarly to running shoes, comfortable shoes like slip-ons and sandals took off during the pandemic as people cut out having to commute to the office.
“Things like Ugg, things like Birkenstocks… they really capitalized on the moment where everyone was looking for comfort, and they’re sort of staying in the limelight,” Haines said. “As sort of tired of a story as that may be, it’s just continuing to be a trend… In fact, [demand for comfort] may even get more prevalent than it’s been in the past.”
StockX is seeing more interest in Ugg as the winter gets closer and plans to showcase Ugg more pointedly on its home page and with SEO, Haines explained. As of July, Ugg’s sales on StockX were up 836% year-over-year, while Birkenstock’s sales reflected a jump of 492%.
Many comfort-driven brands have also taken off because of collaborations, Canaves pointed out. Crocs reported record quarterly revenues of more than $1 billion this summer after rolling out shoes with popular franchises like the NBA, Minecraft and Taco Bell. “Crocs is very focused on limited editions, special editions and they sell out,” Canaves said. “So then people have to go and buy them on resale platforms if they really want them.” Some Barbie Crocs are going for nearly twice their original price on eBay.
Try on in store
While much of sneaker resale takes place online, more platforms are opening their own retail stores to cater to those who want to shop in person.
Impossible Kicks, which was founded during the pandemic, is one of these companies. While Impossible Kicks sells items through its website, 90% of sales come from stores and 10% come from e-commerce. Impossible Kicks has 18 stores and will open its 19th before the end of the year in Las Vegas. Next year, it plans to open 10 or 11 stores, bringing its total to 29 or 30. Many of its stores are in malls and premium outlets.
“We are on a really bullish expansion plan,” Mocadlo said. “With our kind of product and our kind of service, people want to try on the product, they want to see the different styles… A lot of what’s happened — especially with hype sneakers — is it just takes too long, but people don’t want to wait.”
StockX opened its first “shoppable experience” at its drop-off location in New York City earlier this month. The store launched with about 50 SKUs from top sneaker brands, including Jordan Brand and Nike. The assortment will change based on “what’s available any given day or week,” president and co-founder Greg Schwartz told Modern Retail in September.
“We have a lot of people come in, and one of the first questions we get is, ‘Hey, is there something here that I could try out or buy?’” he said. “So, we’re excited to test that and bring that to life.”
In April, eBay opened a two-day sneaker pop-up in Chicago, the birthplace of the Air Jordan 1. Called The ’85 Shop, it showcased a complete collection of original 1985 Air Jordan 1s in every colorway. The pop-up was curated in partnership with several of eBay’s top sneaker sellers. According to eBay, sneakerheads searched for Air Jordan 1s more than 100,000 times a day in 2022.
Many sneakerheads also want their items quickly, which is why some resale companies are directing more resources to faster delivery.
Last month, StockX launched a new express shipping offering, Xpress Ship, which sends out products within three business days for a fee of $24.95. To launch the service, StockX built a new express fulfillment center in New Jersey. It pre-verifies and stores items there before a transaction occurs, which helps save some time. Also in September, Recurate, which powers the resale program at brands like Steve Madden, started offering brands streamlined returns and faster shipping through partnerships with UPS, Canada Post, DHL and others.
Today, sellers on many apparel and footwear resale platforms — including Goat, Depop and eBay — offer some form of express or expedited shipping. At Poshmark, “many of our top sellers are known for and proud of shipping items the same day they are purchased, or shipping on Saturdays including during peak season,” John McDonald, chief operating officer at Poshmark, told Modern Retail via email.
In the past at StockX, “we haven’t been able to have that sort of new muscle of getting people things quickly,” Haines said. “But as a brand with e-commerce in 2023, if you don’t have fast shipping, you’re definitely a little bit behind.” He added that 2024 will be about getting more sellers and buyers to use Xpress Ship, as well as increase the number of products available for the service.
“Hopefully the norm will be that people can get their product in a few days, and instead of just being a piece of our business, it’s actually the majority of our business,” he said.