One of the ancillary benefits of having a really good baseball team is the additional merchandise sales that inevitably come along with a winning record, a division title, and a World Series. After all, when the home team is doing well, fans are much more likely to buy shirseys and hats and those foam fingers with “We're #1” stenciled across them.
For the Phillies, this has been the case for the last few years, as their rise through the ranks of the National League has brought along a pretty significant increase in merchandise sales, such that, as of last season, they sold more merchandise than any other team not named the New York Yankees.
But not all is well on South Broad Street, as the team has taken a significant hit in their merchandise sales this year, according to a column today by The Inquirer's Frank Fitzpatrick:
According to SportsOneSource, a Maine firm that monitors the sale of sports-related merchandise at outlets other than ballparks, the purchase of Phillies-related products has declined by 60 percent.
If the 60 percent figure for non-ballpark sales continues through the end of 2012, the yearly total for the Phils would be about $487 million, a decline of $325 million from 2011.
Woo, that's a lot of cabbage. And not at all surprising, really. The prevalence of jerseys around the ballpark and in the surrounding areas is usually in lock-step with how the team is performing. There probably isn't any complex formula to prove this, because every fan base is different, but the decrease in merchandise this season is, quite honestly, expected.
It's not only because the team is in the basement this year – that's probably the biggest reason – but because this team won 103 games last year and dominated the competition from wire-to-wire, which made for a hot-bed of merchandise-buying activity among the fan base. So even if the Phillies were at the top of the division this year, it would have been really tough for them to match last year's numbers. At least, that's how I view it.
What would be interesting is to see exactly where the drop started. I'm sure that, when the season started, they were keeping pace – relatively speaking – with last year. But I have to think that it was around the middle of June, maybe even early May, that the sales started to drop.
As Fitzpatrick points out, there were a couple of exceptions in the sales. Notably, the Phillie Phanatic, who is a top seller no matter how the team is doing, and Carlos Ruiz, whose merchandise really took off thanks to an MVP-like season.
Despite the huge drop this, the Phillies still remain second in overall merchandise sales behind the New York Yankees. It will be very interesting to see where they rank at the end of the year, especially with the surge of the first place Washington Nationals.