With the Michigan football team in the middle of its worst season since 1962 and with consumers across the state reigning in their spending, sales of Michigan apparel have fared surprisingly well.
Jason Winters, the Athletic Department’s chief financial officer, said the University’s switch from Nike to Adidas retail licensing contracts could more than offset a loss of sales from Steve and Barry’s, a retailer that sold Michigan gear at its stores in malls around the country. The store, which has a location on State Street, filed for bankruptcy this summer.
“Adidas has gotten off to a great start, and we’ve had some success with the Victoria’s Secret Pink store,” Winters said, adding that licensing royalties are “seasonal and volatile.” He said sales are most affected by merchandising trends, the economy, and, to a lesser degree, the team’s performance.
Winters said the University’s royalties from this fiscal year’s first quarter, which ran from October through December, was $1.49 million, making it the second-highest first quarter ever. The figure was about 10 percent less than during the same period last year, which Winters said was primarily due to the loss in sales that came with the bankruptcy of Steve and Barry’s.
Figures from the year’s second quarter, which ends in December, won’t be released until January. But Winters predicted that there would be about a $200,000 loss, based on that fact that of the $1.96 million in royalties from the last fiscal year’s second quarter, Steve and Barry’s accounted for $193,000.
Representatives from Moe Sports Shops on North University Avenue and the M-Den on Main Street, two Michigan merchandise mainstays, said they haven’t seen a drop in sales. Both locations said there’s been a boost in sales thanks to Adidas’s popularity.
“The new Adidas merchandise has been very good for business,” said Drew Christensen, manager of Moe Sports Shops. “The customers have really liked what they’ve been seeing. I don’t know if it’s because of the changeover to Adidas or if it’s because we’re Michigan and Michigan football is going to bounce back.”
Dave Hirth, co-owner of M-Den on Main Street, gave a similar assessment, saying that new head coach Rich Rodriguez has gotten people interested in the team.
“Sales are always better when the team has great success, but the additions of the new coach and the new Adidas line have made fans very excited for this fall,” Hirth said. “Sales have been quite good.”
The owner of Great Lakes Team Apparel on State Street, though, said his store hasn’t been so lucky.
“We seem to be off a little bit,” said Bob Duerksen, who owns the shop. “It’s definitely due to the football and the economy.”
Winters said he recognizes that lower consumer spending might translate to less money for the University.
“We’re optimistic that other things could offset the Steve and Barry’s decline, but we recognize that these are challenging economic times, so we have to be prepared for lower royalty numbers,” he said.