Sales of Olympic merchandise remain strong 

Revenue projections increased; most of the shopping still to come

Quatchi, Sumi and Miga, the 2010 Games mascots, are turning out to be saviours in the retail industry.

At a time when retail sales are falling the wee beasties are turning out to be bestsellers.

A national report on sales for the fourth quarter of 2008 compared to 2007 showed the sector was down 5.4 per cent.

But, said Dennis Kim, merchandising boss for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Committee, their figures for the same period showed sales of Games goods had gone up by 49 per cent.

“That is pretty remarkable,” he said.

“It is saying that during these times retailers are being more careful and conscientious of which brands they are want to have in their stores.

“With the anticipation of our Games less than a year away demand is definitely building and I think retailers are gravitating towards goods that will help them out in a time where sales are tougher to come by.”

So far 300,000 plush mascots have been sold and the book, which tells the tale of the mascots and their association to the Games, is a national bestseller five times over, with sales at over 28,000.

In the Christmas period sales were almost $5.5 million. So popular are the 2010 mascots and souvenirs that projected merchandising revenues have been increased to $53.8 million from $46 million.

There are already 1,300 retailers carrying the goods, not including national sponsor Hudson’s Bay, which is set to turn nearly all of the main floor of its downtown Vancouver store into a mega Olympic merchandising outlet.

More outlets will be in place at Games time. But, said Kim, VANOC souvenir tents will not be in Whistler Village.

“Any of the temporary locations specific to the Games would be within the perimeter of the venues,” he said.

“Retail is a demand and supply business so we are very fortunate to have been out early and to have been in marketplace since 2006, so there is a brand affinity.”

VANOC has also tried to produce a variety of merchandise from goods that appeal to those who collect art.

And, said Kim, the good news is that there is still a lot of shopping to be done.

“One of the biggest positive messages that we have to deliver is that 70 per cent of Olympic and Paralympic merchandise business is still to come,” he said.

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