Nike v Adidas v Puma: Holiday Shopping Competition

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Update December 2021

When we last examined shoe store foot traffic in October 2021, Nike had amassed the lion’s share of US brick-and-mortar visits. Adidas was a distant second and PUMA a yet more distant third. What’s changed in December 2021?

An analysis of foot traffic at the three brands’ US locations from October 3 to the end of November 2021 — covering most of the holiday shopping season to date — shows those trends have persisted. 

Nike has received nearly 62% of total foot traffic during that period, Adidas just shy of 30%, and PUMA 8.6%. Nike’s dominance comes as the company aims to reinforce the primacy of its own stores and digital channels, yanking products from third-party retailers. 

Nike’s dominance on the state level also holds. Nike leads in all but three of the states where the shoe brands are in competition. The exceptions are Indiana, Maryland, and the crucial market of New York, where Adidas leads. Last we checked, Adidas had captured 54% of the New York market by foot traffic, a 12 percentage point advantage over Nike. Over the holidays, Adidas has received 52% of foot traffic in the state, compared to 43% for Nike and just under 5% for PUMA.

It might be fruitful for Nike and Adidas to examine whether the three percentage point swing in visitation market share over the past two months has translated into meaningful differences in sales.

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If we zero in on the New York City metro area, PUMA gains some strength relative to the brand’s performance statewide. PUMA received 10.3% of foot traffic in the New York-Jersey City-Newark metro area, compared to 51.3% for Adidas and 38.4% for Nike. 

PUMA might investigate why it performs relatively well in the metropolis — is this a mere question of store density, or does it reveal something deeper about the brand and it's potentially cosmopolitan appeal? Similarly, Nike might research why it’s falling behind in the nation’s largest market, especially given its resounding dominance nationwide.

Other geographic outliers in the Age of Nike include Pittsburgh, PA, Washington DC, and Portland, OR. In these metro markets, Adidas claims 82%, 68%, and 62% of foot traffic, respectively. 

Adidas’ over-performance in Pittsburgh and Portland is especially interesting because the brand trails Nike in Pennsylvania and Oregon by significant margins — 11 and a whopping 51 percentage points, respectively. In addition, Nike is headquartered near Portland. Are there factors beyond store density driving the German brand’s popularity in these urban centers, and can Adidas replicate that success elsewhere, operationally or via site selection?

Finally, let’s consider overall retail consumption during this year’s holiday season relative to 2020 and 2019. Here are the total visitation numbers:

Oct 3 to Nov 27, 2021

Adidas: 1.7 million

Nike: 3.5 million

Puma: 480,000 

Oct 4 to Nov 28, 2020

Adidas: 2.0 million

Nike: 4.0 million

Puma: 540,000

Oct 6 to Nov 30, 2019

Adidas: 3.2 million 

Nike: 5.7 million

Puma: 870,000

2021’s performance is much more similar to that of 2020, a pre-mass vaccination pandemic year, than it is to 2019’s. In fact, a bit surprisingly, foot traffic appears slightly down year over year — about 10 to 15%. This may reflect consumers’ increased comfort with online shopping, especially for a category like sneakers, where loyal sneaker fans may know their size, or the shoe size of a gift recipient, without needing to head in-store. 

Unequivocally, though, foot traffic is sharply down from 2019, when visits were anywhere from 63 to 88% higher than this year’s total across the three brands. COVID is still having a massive impact on in-store foot traffic.


Everybody needs shoes and we like them to be comfortable and stylish -- Witness the global $100 billion dollar athletic footwear market. But how is the COVD-19 pandemic affecting the foot traffic of leading shoe retailers, and which brand has established footprints in what market? We studied recent US foot traffic data for Nike, Adidas and PUMA to find out.


A quick glance at the state level map will tell you that Nike (orange) dominates foot traffic among the measured brands. Nike retail locations win in all but three of the states measured, including the entirety of the western, central and southern states. 

Across the US, the Nike brand averaged about 1,775 visits to each store each week, or about 252 per day. That was the highest brand average among the three we measured, by a factor of better than 2x over Adidas and 7x over PUMA.

When we switch to the State level view from the drop down menu above the map, Nike again dominates in many areas, but there are notable pockets at MSA level (cities and broader urban areas), where both Adidas and PUMA claim top market share. This is clearest in the New York market, where Adidas wins both the city and the state foot traffic title for summer of 2021.


At the state level, Adidas took top ranking for foot traffic in Maryland, Indiana and, critically, New York, where Adidas claimed 54% of all measured foot traffic, or about 12% more than Nike. In Maryland the margin was 17%, in Indiana it was about 16%. So, where Adidas has a toehold, it’s fairly solid.

At the MSA level, a quick scan shows the greatest relative strength in the northeast US, with New York, Washington, DC and Pittsburgh all recording wins for the Adidas brand. Adidas also recorded more traffic than their competitors further south in Jackson, MS and Raleigh, NC, and to the west in Sacramento, CA and Portland, OR.


At just 250 visits per week on average, PUMA retail locations did not win any of the statewide foot traffic races in summer of 2021. The brand does, however, claim victory in few a urban markets and ranks #2 in several mid-sized cities. 

PUMA was the #1 brand in Jacksonville, FL by a factor of 2x over Nike. In Sacramento, CA, PUMA was also #1, by a factor of greater than 2x over both Nike and Adidas. PUMA was also the #2 brand for foot traffic in significant MSAs including: Phoenix, New Orleans, Baltimore, Boston and Detroit.


While Nike dominates retail foot traffic at a national level, both Adidas and PUMA demonstrate competitive strength in key markets, both at the MSA and statewide levels. Adidas’ dominance of the New York market, and PUMA’s strong footprint in some urban markets provide healthy competition in the athletic footwear category.

Unacast can help any retail brand use location data to measure traffic, conduct competitive analysis, inform site selection and improve site performance. Click the button below to check out Unacast Now.

The data presented here is meant to provide topline indicators of what human mobility data can tell us about the retail shoe category. Unacast can help you go much deeper and empower you to use location data to inform site selection, competitive analysis and more. Want to know more? Schedule a meeting with us today.


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