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Super Bowl Series: How the Big Game Impacts Athletic Wear Sales

Posted by Keely Brown on January 28, 2018

According to Nielsen, 111.3 television viewers watched Super Bowl LI in 2017 -- numbers that spelled a marketing bonanza for retailers. Last year, the National Retail Federation said that consumers were slated to spend $14.1 billion -- or an average of $75 per person -- on food and beverages, party goods and team merchandise. Game day apparel made up 11 percent of this average, which means that a staggering 21 million new team-related items were purchased.

Sports and Super Bowl Spending

Thanks to the Super Bowl, retailers have something to look forward to in the post-Christmas gloom of January, just as long as they carry Super Bowl merchandise.

Historically, the Super Bowl has always been a day for fans to give themselves license for overindulging; but in recent years, one of the key watchwords of the Big Game has been money. Whether it's TV ad spending (more than $5 million for a 30-second spot) or tickets (the average Super Bowl ticket costs $2,500-$3,000), the Super Bowl is a big money proposition in every way. For sports apparel retailers, it can also be a cash cow before, during and after the game, as long as they had the foresight to order plenty of championship merchandise.

In a sports retail industry slated to reach $73.5 billion by 2019, the good news for athletic wear manufacturers (and sellers) is that more than 40 percent of consumers spend their money on sports apparel rather than equipment; and Super Bowl apparel sales are likely to benefit from this metric as well.

Online Sales

For fans who didn't want to wait until January, retailers began selling officially-licensed Super Bowl LII team apparel in August 2017 -- a full six months before kickoff.

According to online retailers, however, the time when the numbers really start multiplying is after January. That's when the Super Bowl starts getting its biggest digital marketing push, in terms of YouTube videos, social media posts and blog content. While marketers everywhere are worrying about ecommerce solutions and platforms for their Super Bowl campaigns, it seems as though retailers of team-related merchandise can almost sit back and watch all those hoodies, sweatshirts and championship caps sell themselves.

On sites like Amazon and eBay, retailers report significant spikes in Super Bowl items during the weeks and days leading up to the game. After the Broncos advanced to the 2014 Super Bowl, eBay sellers reported that fans purchased more than 10,500 Peyton Manning jerseys. In January 2016, before the Carolina Panthers even won the playoffs, eBay buyers purchased over 7,500 Cam Newton jerseys. Likewise, during a recent Super Bowl week, online retailer Fathead announced a 60 percent boost of sales for its team-related wall decals.


Super Bowl Pop-Ups

When 2014's Super Bowl XLVIII was held in New Jersey, New York retailers embraced the trendy pop-up shop craze by opening temporary Super Bowl apparel shops throughout Manhattan's main retail areas. This year, Minneapolis vendors are following a similar strategy by installing pop ups throughout City Center -- including an official NFL store. Likewise, Minneapolis stores are already crammed full of team-related clothing and game day swag, and sales are expected to be brisk.

Best of all, once the game is over and the winner is rewarded with the Lombardi trophy, clothing sales continue to thrive -- as long as they're printed with the winning team. While losing team apparel is quickly packed off for distribution to economically-impoverished countries, winning team merchandise hits the market within hours after the big win, and sells for premium prices. Thanks to the Super Bowl, retailers can experience a revenue win that can continue for weeks during an otherwise static season.

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Topics: Super Bowl, sports, Apparel, Retail

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