Olympics: No Gold for U.S. Retailers

NEW YORK — Though the Beijing Olympics have Americans glued to their TVs, they’re not driving consumers into athletic stores, retailers said last week.

“We would like to think the Olympics help build some excitement [among consumers], but it’s just too subjective to be able to put any proof behind it,” said Courtney Coe, a spokesperson for REI.

Tom Raynor, chairman and CEO of Fleet Feet, said that the Olympics rarely generate big sales for his franchised stores.

“We’ve never had much traffic from the Olympics. [Except], when the Olympic Trials were in Sacramento, Calif., in 2000 and 2004, our local stores did see an increase in business,” he said.

“[Still], the success of American runners Galen Rupp and Shalane Flanagan and the awesome performance by 21-year-old Usain Bolt [of Jamaica] have captivated young runners,” said Raynor, adding that future product could spur demand next year. “Many of the shoes, uniforms and accessories Nike, Adidas, Asics and Mizuno are making for Olympic athletes this year will be available in some form for track-and-field athletes at all levels and ages next spring.”

At Moe’s Sneaker Spot in Queens, N.Y., a special Olympic-edition of the Jordan shoe was registering sales during the games, said Mitch Tobin, owner of the store. “[The Jordan Olympian] was excellent,” said Tobin. “I don’t think there was enough of that [type of] product for the Olympics. They could have done more in the running area, or some Air Force Ones could have done well.”

While retailers were mixed on the Olympics’ impact on sales, Foot Locker CEO Matt Serra told Footwear News earlier this summer that the event generally brings buzz to sports retailers. “An Olympic year is always good for the athletic footwear industry,” he said.

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