Trends & Features

World Cup was a disaster for South African sports trade

A shortage of replica kit, an extended holiday period and lack of customers for FIFA licensed product contributed to a disastrous World Cup for the sports and outdoor trade in South Africa.

That’s the verdict of Trudi du Toit, editor of Sports Trader magazine, the highly regarded Southern Africa trade publication.

Says du Toit: “Not only did retailers not profit from World Cup sales, but we did a survey and most reported that sales in general were down from June/July last year – and that was a bad season.

“South Africa team shirt stock was just about impossible to get as adidas failed to deliver, and very few people bought replica from other countries here, they brought it with them.”

Unusually long school and university holidays during June and July also contributed to an unexpected slowdown in retail sales.

Says du Toit: “Many businesses encouraged staff to go on leave, with the result that customers who would normally buy sports equipment, shoes and clothing either went away, or spent all their spare cash on World Cup tickets and trips, not memorabilia as everyone expected.

“They didn’t even buy the normal non-World Cup related items that usually sell this time of the year.”

du Toit says the only indigenous people who profited from the World Cup were South Africa’s street vendors, who sold flags and vuvuzelas to fans.

“There seemed to have been very little interested in the 50-odd FIFA Official Licensed Products, despite the millions FIFA claimed were sold during previous World Cups,” says du Toit.

Despite the World Cup being bad for trade in most retail sectors in South Africa, du Toit believes the vast majority of South Africans would say the tournament was worthwhile.

“As a nation building and public relations exercise, it was the most uplifting experience and it is difficult to describe the month-long high we all felt as everybody seemed to be smiling all day and night and joined in the celebrations of whichever team was playing in town after Bafana Bafana was knocked out,” she explains.

“We have all set our sights on reaping future benefits from visitors returning and new tourists arriving as we believe many visitors would have gone home with positive report cards.”

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