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Pricier Athletic Shoes Gaining a Toehold

HEARD ON THE BEAT / RETAIL

October 20, 1998|LESLIE EARNEST | Leslie Earnest covers retail businesses and restaurants for The Times. She can be reached at (714) 966-7832 and at leslie.earnest@latimes.com

Oakley is trying to sell its new shoes in a difficult market.

The Athletic Footwear Assn. in Florida says the number of pairs of athletic shoes purchased in the first six months of this year dropped 3.6% to 154.5 million pairs, compared to 160.2 million during the first half of last year. Total spending, however, dipped only 0.5%, because the shoes that sold were more expensive.

"Sales declines are never good news, but these results seem almost rosy in the face of all the dire predictions about the future of athletic footwear," executive director Gregg Hartley said in a statement.

The survey was conducted by NPD Group Inc., a New York researcher.

Running shoe styles have replaced basketball shoes as the top sellers, the survey found. Hiking shoe sales were also on the upswing.

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