A Massive Running Shoe Shortage Could be Looming

By Brian Metzler

One of the busiest marathon (and half marathon) seasons in history is winding down. Among several other novel developments this year, many runners competed for the first time in new carbon-plated “super shoes.” With running stores re-opened despite the lingering Covid-19 pandemic, the running industry is finally rebounding after a difficult 2020 and a bleak first half of 2022.

Unfortunately, we’re not out of the woods yet. While shipping issues are still plaguing gear brands and retailers alike, it seems like it could get a lot worse. At the late-September Runchella industry gathering in Denver, the outlook for the 2021 holiday season and early 2022 was decidedly bleak among shoe brands, retail buyers and other industry insiders. How brands are working through that dilemma should be among the hottest topics at The Running Event trade show this week in Austin, Texas.

Surging shopper demand coupled with shipping container shortages, bottlenecks at major U.S. ports and a reduction in factory workforce have already triggered tighter supply of products and distribution issues.

The Biden Administration announced recently that its Supply Chain Distributions Task Force has worked with the Port of Los Angeles and Port Long Beach and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) to develop a series of public and private commitments to move more goods faster by moving toward 24-hours-a-day, 7-days a week operations. Those two ports are the point of entry for 40 percent of containers to the U.S., and are on track to reach new highs in container traffic this year.