World Cup fever strikes catalogers

The 32-country World Cup soccer tournament, which ended June 30 with Brazil’s 2-0 victory over Germany, has been a boon for sales of soccer-related merchandise.

For Madison, WI-based soccer cataloger Big Toe Sports, sales increased 27%-33%, according to general manager Dan Nuthals. “We had more enthused consumers jumping on the bandwagon for the latest products,” Nuthals says. “We’d planned for the World Cup to be big based on the amount of merchandise the manufacturers provided, and it was very positive for us.”

Big Toe Sports had two catalogs drops during the World Cup, and it ran a Web promotion declaring 20% off all merchandise until the U.S. team was eliminated.

Likewise, Vienna, VA-based cataloger Rugby and Soccer Supply saw business jump 10%-15% in select categories, such as jerseys, according to president Matt Godek. The company, which mails its catalog four times a year, has annual sales of less than $5 million.

The sales increase at Hillsborough, NC-based Eurosport, which mails soccer-gear titles Team Eurosport and Keepersport, was in line with expectations, says director of marketing Jim Noonan. He notes that manufacturers such as Adidas, Nike, and Puma unveiled a number of new items to coincide with the World Cup.

“We did see a correlation whenever the latest gear was shown on television. Our customers called and wanted the same cleats they saw on TV or the official FIFA [ Federation International de Football Association] ball,” Noonan adds.

But Rugby and Soccer Supply’s Godek says sales could have been more robust had manufacturers not counted out long shots. “None of the manufacturers saw a team like Turkey [which advanced to the semifinals and wound up taking third place] coming,” he says. “So when these teams advanced in the tournament there was virtually no merchandise available for their fans.”

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