Hot Market On Ice: NHL Winter Classic Sales Grow

Posted by Marty Brochstein on January 06, 2011

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Over the past several years, the major U.S. sports leagues have become increasingly adept at creating and leveraging “hot market” licensing and merchandising opportunities.
For example, though the news release is bereft of actual sales figures, the National Hockey League is crowing over growth of merchandise sales at the recent Winter Classic (the annual outdoor game staged on New Year’s Day — this time in Pittsburgh, featuring the Penguins vs. Washington Capitols).
An excerpt from the release:
“The substantial growth in NHL Winter Classic merchandise sales mirrors the increased profile of the event and the global demand for all things NHL. Some highlights from the 2011 NHL Winter Classic include: NHL Winter Classic retail merchandise sales increased by 78 percent over 2010; the entire inventory of 38,000 NHL Winter Classic jerseys sold out, representing a 17 percent increase from year before; stadium concession sales were up 24 percent; other categories showing significant growth: (all apparel up 41 percent; children’s apparel up 107 percent; youth jerseys up 150 percent; women’s apparel up 56 percent; gift and novelty sales (driven by “Terrible Towels) up 282 percent).
“Winter Classic sales at the NHL Store Powered by Reebok [the NHL's flagship store in New York City] were up 59 percent, led by jersey sales (up 121 percent) and T-shirts (up 79 percent).
“On, the NHL’s official online retail outlet, sales increased by 61 percent year over year, with a 33 percent increase in units sold. Leading the way were jerseys (up 107 percent), player apparel (up 105 percent) and women’s apparel (up 93 percent).”
Major retailer Dick’s Sporting Goods, which was one of the game’s sponsors, stocked Winter Classic merchandise in its Pittsburgh and Washington stores,including a temporary Winter Classic pop-up store in downtown Pittsburgh and amobile store at the NHL’s Spectator Plaza next to the stadium.
All comparisons are to the 2010 Winter Classic, which was staged at Boston’s Fenway Park.