Global Running Day is Here, but Does It Provide a Boost to Specialty Run Retail?

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Global Running Day is here, and the annual celebration of the sport has arrived at a time when the running shoe market is alive and well.

According to new data from Circana’s consumer tracking service, running shoes — one of the hottest categories in the U.S. footwear market in 2024 — is a $7.1 billion business, with the women’s segment growing even faster than men’s and has almost caught up to its size in the past 12 months.

Running shoe sales have grown by $1.3 billion in the past three years, Circana noted, with running footwear dollar sales increasing by 12 percent in the 12 months ending April 2024.

As for how consumers are wearing these shoes, it varies. Circana added that it found that 43 percent of consumers bought running shoes for sport and exercise, while over half of the dollars spent are attributed to non-athletic uses, including casual or everyday use (33 percent) and work (7 percent).

“While performance is paramount in running footwear, the innovation in the category is also attracting casual wearers that are looking for everyday comfort,” Beth Goldstein, footwear industry analyst at Circana, said in a statement. “The visible functional elements have become fashion for both runners and non-runners alike, commanding premium price points.”

This new data comes as product innovation are top of mind for many performance footwear brands, with several releasing new shoes before or on Global Running Day. Nike, for instance, released its highly anticipated Pegasus 41 on Wednesday, an everyday trainer that retails for $140. And Adidas revealed its Supernova Prima on Tuesday, which is available now via and at select retailers, and retails for $160.

Nike Pegasus 41, volt, running shoe
Nike Pegasus 41 “Volt.”

Although the market is performing well, with plenty of new product to go around, specialty run retailers are split on how much to activate around Global Running Day.

Some retailers are leaning into the day, such as Bekah Metzdorff, co-owner of Mill City Running and Saint City Running in Minnesota. Metzdorff told FN that the Mill City Running Race Team run club has partnered with Nike, its sponsor, to elevate its Wednesday run with a “Volt” themed workout, highlighting both Global Running Day and a lead colorway of the Pegasus 41.

Likewise at Charlotte Running Co. in North and South Carolina, the retailer is hosting a demo run with Diadora at 6 p.m. ET at its South Charlotte store. At the event, store owner Scott Dvorak said it will release a collaborative beer with Lower Left Brewing, a local brewery. “We’ve done smaller type things, like group runs, in the past, but this will be the biggest thing we’ve ever done,” Dvorak said.

Adidas Supernova Prima, running shoe
Adidas Supernova Prima in the “Preloved Scarlett” colorway for women.

However, merchants such as Dan Fitzgerald, co-owner of Heartbreak Hill Running Co. in Boston and Chicago, don’t feel the need to activate around Global Running Day. He likened store activations on Global Running Day to the NBA deciding to celebrate “Play Basketball Day,” an annual date dedicated to the impact that basketball has globally. “We do this every day. We honor it, we celebrate it and make it more connective every day,” Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald also noted that Global Running Day historically has zero impact on sales. Metzdorff echoed this sentiment, adding that there is no impact on sales day of. However, Metzdorff did say that she is confident in the day’s ability to spread “the spirit of run,” and “when more people are running and looking to connect through run, that impacts us over time.”

And although Wednesday’s event will be the biggest Charlotte Running Co. has hosted around Global Running Day, Dvorak is unsure of how, if at all, it will impact sales. “We’ve never done anything at this scale. It will certainly drive sales at the one location with the event. I wouldn’t expect to see much of a bump at our other stores,” he said.

Despite uncertainty around Global Running Day’s impact on sales, Metzdorff believes the annual event is one specialty run retailers should pay attention to.

“The best root motivation for a retailer to be involved with Global Running Day should be to celebrate the opportunity to run and its impact on people, and use it as an opportunity to bring runners together,” Metzdorff said. “Alongside that, when you have people at an event or they are paying attention online because its Global Running Day, it is a great opportunity to introduce new products, technology, events. That can enhance and add excitement to the day.”

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