Are Jordan Retail Prices Outpacing Inflation?

Yes.  But not significantly.

Sneakerheads love to lament the ever-increasing retail price of Retro Jordans.  With GR prices hitting $170 and premium versions like the 5Lab3 reaching $225, it definitely feels like prices are increasing at a quicker rate than ever before.  There have been two price hikes in the past two years alone and rumors constantly abound that more are just around the corner.  What gives?

We all inherently understand inflation.  Sneakers are not immune from the rising costs of raw materials, labor, shipping, etc.  No one expects to cop $100 retros forever.  So the question, then, is whether the retail price of Jordans is increasing faster than inflation.  Is the newly minted $170 GR price more or less than historical prices, in equivalent dollars?

To answer the question we analyzed the change in retail price for three prolific retro models (3, 5, 6) over the past 25 years.  Using the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics Inflation Calculator we calculated the equivalent 2014 purchasing power for each of the historical prices.  The result is this chart:

Jordan Retail Inflation 032814

Key Insights:

  • The most obvious visual observation is how expensive OGs were.  $125 for Jordan 5s in 1991 is the equivalent if $225 today!  No wonder these were so groundbreaking.  At no point in history have Jordans been as expensive as they were when they came out.
  • The next obvious insight is that, besides OGs, the current $170 retail price is the most expensive.
  • BUT . . . the fact that 8 of the 12 prices between 1999 and 2013 have an equivalent value greater than $160 (the 2013 price) means that the $170 price is not significantly more expensive than it should be.  In fact, $170 is both reasonable and logical.  If the price stays at $170 for 2015 it might be exactly in line with inflation.

Conclusion:  There is nothing egregious here.  Jordan Brand might be six months to a year ahead of inflation, but Retros are still a much, much better deal than they were back in the day.  Just don’t confuse that as a blank check to keep raising prices, JB – we’re watching closely.

 

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5 comments

  1. Syraquse · · Reply

    I’m glad someone decided to do this. When I was deciding whether to buy the Gamma Blue Jordan XI, I checked an inflation calculator and decided it was within reason to bite the bullet and buy my first retro Jordan.

    I think the one thing almost as annoying as the high prices, difficulty of acquiring the shoes legitimately via retail (versus resorting to bots, waiting on a line, or resell prices) is people complaining about the cost going up without considering inflation. It’s much easier to calculate that than it is to actually acquire the shoes.

    It would be nice to see more of this “quality” that everyone seems to remember though.

  2. HypeBeastNV · · Reply

    Prices are going up in the fall though. I think it’s $170 to $185 and XIs go to $200.

  3. DthAngel · · Reply

    The difference is back then there werent 3 different retros in 6 colorways coming out every month so back then the price tag was much more manageable. $125 (although i think the OG 5s were less) every 2 months was a lot easier to deal with because there was usually only one option for Jordans back then.
    Its also unfortunate that with the higher price tag comes a lower quality.

  4. poscogrubb · · Reply

    It would have been nice if this graph had a LINEAR x-axis. Seriously, guys. Never have I seen a graph on inflation in anything but linear or logarithmic time scale. The way you did it, it looks like you’re trying to hide some data.

    1. That’s true, using buckets of years how we did is not the most conventional, but it’s also pretty easy to follow, particularly since we listed the actual retail prices in a table in the upper right for anyone to check against our work. Between that and the link to the Inflation Calculator, this is a pretty straight forward analysis so hopefully people feel comfortable we’re not hiding anything. The choice to use buckets and the year selection within each bucket was a function of trying to find years where each of the models had the majority of their shoes at a single price point, and also had overlap with the other models before an increase. Between that and the desire to create an easy to follow chart, we opted for the buckets. Our apologies for any negative impression that may have caused. Please let us know if you find inconsistency in the conclusion and we’ll be happy to explore and update.

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