Following a successful year in '94, NFL Properties revealstheir merchandising plans for '95-96 in the current issue ofSPORTING GOODS BUSINESS. INSIDE THE NUMBERS: A SGB survey of 207 retailers,representing 1,935 stores, shows that sales of NFLP merchandiseincreased 4.1% in '94. Department stores and mass merchants hadthe strongest year with sales growth of 10.1%, but sporting goodstores/team dealers "were not as optimistic, signaling a growth"of only 1.1% over the past year. Due in part to the success ofthe Lions, Packers, Bears, and Vikings, the North Central regionshowed the greatest increase at 6.3%, with the West up 5%, theSouth up 2.7%, and the Northeast up 2%. The Northeast's weakshowing was due largely to the decline of the Giants and Eagles,and the warm weather at Christmas. Of top selling brands,Starter led three of four categories, including headgear,fleece/sweatshirts, and outerwear (Greg Pesky, SGB, 3/95). BACK TO THE FUTURE: With sales possibly hitting a ceiling,NFLP plans to "focus more closely on the core equity of footballand the NFL," including its three-tiered merchandising plan and"the program each tier umbrellas:" Performance (Pro Line),Lifestyle (Throwbacks), and Family (NFL Kids, NFL at Home, Backto School, and Game Day). Part of the plan is also to add largeapparel companies such as Reebok, Russell, and VF Corp to reducethe "base of licensees" and "create a greater scarcity" ofproduct to "revitalize demand." NFLP VP/Worldwide RetailLicensing Jim Connelly: "There is a feeling now that our productis too spread out, that there is not enough innovation upstairsand too much dumping of our product downstairs." Connelly citesReebok's "marketing prowess" as a key component to the NFL ProLine, and says NFLP will continue to push jerseys by giving moreinterpretations of the uniform, similar to the Throwbacks. NFLPDir of Youth Licensing Peter Lapointe said NFL Kids is an areafor more growth. Lapointe says home products, back-to-schoolmerchandise, and video games are "untapped and growing areas"that are perfect for children. Lapointe also wants promotionsthat bring a "broad spectrum of corporations together to drive"retail sales. Lapointe: "Let's use McDonald's ads on Fox todirect purchases at JCPenney stores where all kids licenses aredisplayed in one shop concept." Also stressed is "NFL at Home,"which includes domestic products, electronics and homefurnishings, among others (Alisa Klemm, SGB, 3/95 issue). GONE HOLLYWOOD: NFLP Dir of Marketing Doug Quinn feels the"Hollywood Factor" or the "link between TV drama and sports maybe growing stronger." For example, expect to see NFL playerswith cameos on "Melrose Place" and other Fox shows, as well asNFL merchandise placements. Quinn sees this as a way to appealto women, much as the way the film "Little Giants" worked withchildren. Besides Hollywood, the division is also "committed tosupporting sales at the retail level." NFLP Senior Dir ofMarketing Ray Katz: "We really feel we are way ahead of theother leagues in the area of retail support." The league willcontinue with successful promos like the "Painted Bus Promotion"where fans win a trip to an NFL game on the painted bus andreceive a Starter bag and a tailgate party catered by McDonald's.Katz also plans to work closer with retailers like JC Penney,Foot Locker, Macy's and The Sports Authority regarding the way"we present our product in the store, and the way we support itin an environment that is appealing, exciting and sets up apart."In addition, NFLP may look to "design permanent and semi-permanent fixturing similar to that offered" by Reebok and Nike(Alisa Klemm, SGB, 3/95). 1994 WINNERS: The issue gives its top three prizes for theSGB/NFLP Retail Merchandising Awards. First prize went to CarsonPirie Scott and VP Chuck Luckenbill for "his visualquarterbacking of the retailer's NFL-specific display at itsChicago location" (SGB, 3/95 issue).