For World Cup Jerseys, Apparel Makers Mostly Eschew Names On Back
American interest in soccer "typically spikes around the quadrennial World Cup, but it hasn't been strong enough for sporting-goods retailers to stock their shelves with jerseys of top players," according to Germano & Beaton of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Nike said that it "doesn't sell ready-printed player-specific jerseys to wholesale customers like sporting-goods stores," and added that it "makes a small quantity of preprinted jerseys to display in its own stores." Galaxy F Landon Donovan, who did not make the final U.S. roster, is one, while "another is that of team captain Clint Dempsey." Boston-based City Sports CEO Edward Albertian said that World Cup gear "is a 'dramatic commitment to inventory,' made all the riskier ... when there are a lot of moving parts, including Mr. Donovan's last-minute cut, the weakness of some traditionally strong teams like Mexico, and the uncertainty about who will advance." Albertian: "To have a shirt that says Brazil or Italia is better than having any name on it. That's a slippery slope." Other big chains "follow a similar strategy." Visits to Modell's and Sports Authority "yielded jerseys for countries such as Argentina, Brazil, England, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal and the U.S.," but all the jerseys "were generic, without player names or numbers on the back." Modell's Sporting Goods Manager of Sports Marketing & PR Jason Karlowski: "We find that many of the fans are purchasing based upon their heritage, and that wearing their nation's colors proudly is more important than player preference." SportsOneSource analyst Matt Powell said that World Cup merch "is a small category in the U.S." (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 6/12).
WHAT'S SELLING? In New Jersey, Andrew Wyrich reports both Sports Authority and Dick's Sporting Goods in Paramus, N.J., had "large sections devoted to World Cup replica jerseys, T-shirts, soccer balls and scarves." Sports Authority "was even offering a World Cup trivia board game as part of their display." Sports Authority Divisional Merchandise Manager Rob Will said that World Cup sales "have been strong ahead of the tournament, and he expects that to continue during the weeks after Father’s Day." Dick's Sporting Goods Community Marketing Manager Brian Hagerman said that jerseys "have been popular among customers at Dick’s in the weeks heading up to the international tournament -- with United States, Brazil, Argentina, Spain and Mexico jerseys the top sellers." The jerseys "can range from $50 to more than $90." Will said that U.S. and Mexico jerseys "have been the strongest sellers at Sports Authority" (Bergen RECORD, 6/12). In Seattle, Nick Eaton noted Dempsey's jersey and "other merchandise are the best-selling among all soccer players" on Fanatics.com. Dempsey’s Team USA merchandise sales "have jumped" more than 300% in the past week. Trailing Dempsey in sales were Brazil F Neymar, U.S. MF Michael Bradley, Portugal MF Cristiano Ronaldo, and Argentina F Lionel Messi. Fanatics said that its top-selling national teams "were USA, Brazil, Italy, Portugal and England" (SEATTLEPI.com, 6/10).