The Sneaker Game in the Face of COVID-19

COVID-19 has created a global health crisis and pandemic of unprecedented proportions. The virus has affected the lives of people across the globe and has indiscriminately altered human life in an unfathomable manner. Schools and universities have been closed, nonessential businesses have been ordered to suspend operations and residents told to stay home and minimize social interactions. Almost all areas of modern life are feeling the stark repercussions of this present pandemic and the sneaker industry is no different.

Adidas have reportedly missed their 2020 Quarter 1 profit expectations by 95%. Nike sales are down more than 75% from the same time last year. While Jordan, Converse and Under Armour have seen hits of more than 80%. In short, it’s been a crazy time for the sneaker game.

Some of the most in demand releases have either been postponed to the fall or cancelled until the strains of the pandemic have been eased. Within the month of April alone, the Dior x Air Jordan release (touted to be Jordan Brand’s most expensive collection ever) has been pushed back for the foreseeable future while the company navigates around the current pandemic. Ronnie Fieg’s highly anticipated Kith x Air Force 1 release expected to drop Spring 2020 appears to have also been pushed back to a more advantageous time and the Travis Scott x Air Max 270 has been delayed also. Causing sneakerheads the world over to become increasingly restless as they await these hotly anticipated drops.

Furthermore, as the Sneaker game and the world of Sports are so synonymously aligned, the international lack of organized sport has had a real detrimental effect on some of our favourite brands. With the NBA season suspend, it appears that sneakerheads will be without the traditional array of playoff themed exclusive releases which we typically enjoy around this time of year. Moreover, this is typically the time of year when the fresh Football Boots and Running Shoes are released, but of course with whole industry on hold for the time being, these too have been pushed back. 

We also cannot forget, that the modern Sneaker game is more than just Nike, Adidas, Reebok and Puma. This pandemic reaches deeper into the people and companies who see sneakers as an investment and a way of life; companies such as; Stadium Goods, StockX and the multitude of independent resellers who utilize the buying, selling and trading on these platforms as their central source of income. With Sneaker sales down across the board coupled with unemployment rising and less people feeling the want, or need, to spend large sums of money on the freshest kicks. These resellers are seeing their whole industry and their individual businesses taking a massive hit. Leading to serious questions as to how long the sneaker resale industry, now valued at more than $2 billion, can survive under the present state of affairs.

Ultimately, it feels like it may be a long time before we see hoards of people clamour outside Footlocker, Size, Nike or Adidas for the latest release. We may have to wait a little while longer for a new Yeezy drop that breaks the internet, the Adidas app and our Phones collectively. We may have to be patient a little while longer as we wait for the next Jordan Retro release, or for the newest NBA star to release their own signature sneaker. And I have no doubt that the future of the sneaker game will be completely altered in light of the current pandemic. However, if there is one bright spot, we can expect A LOT of heat to drop when the current state of affairs is over.