SBD/February 14, 2014/Olympics

Merchandise Sales Slow In Sochi As Customers Complain About Long Lines, Few Options

The Sochi Games have "made it oddly difficult to buy official merchandise," as the main Olympic Park "features just one superstore, which is operated by Russian retailer Bosco di Ciliegi, Sochi's primary Olympic licensee," according to Orwall & McKay of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The wait to get inside "is often an hour long and sometimes has been two hours." Merchandise stands at other Olympic locations "are scarce, and can be hard to spot -- like a nondescript trailer at the extreme sports venue in the mountains that looks almost identical to the ones used for food concessions and restrooms." In an "age of hypercommercialization, it seems impossible that an event like the Olympics would be under-merchandised." But "this is Russia." Bosco VP/Marketing Olga Chernosvitova said, "We definitely underestimated the interest in this during the Games, and in Russia generally. We didn't expect this demand. … It is far more than we would ever have expected." SOCOG said that it is "aiming for retail sales" of about $500M, which would bring it around $30M in "licensing revenue from its 55 partners and a total of 5,000 products." By contrast, the '10 Vancouver Games "generated more than" $50M in licensing revenue for its organizing committee; and the '12 London Games, which "featured 10,000 licensed products, generated" about $130M in revenue for its organizers. Big crowds descended on the Olympic Park superstore "from the get-go, and they have been grouchy about the relatively slim pickings they find after enduring the long wait to shop." However, the Sochi merchandising program "extends far beyond the Olympic Park to the far reaches of Russia." About 50% of the sales "are being rung up in Moscow, the site of another superstore; about 15% of sales are in Sochi" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/14).
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