Phillies merchandise won't repeat sales success

As fun as it has been to follow the Philadelphia Phillies race to repeat as world champs, there’s one thing the team probably won’t duplicate: whopping merchandise sales.

Matt Powell, an analyst with SportsOneSource, which tracks the sporting goods industry, said sales of Phillies T-shirts, hats and other merchandise are “way off” from last year. But that’s a typical pattern for teams that produce multiple championships, he said.

While it’s too early for final figures, sales of Phillies merchandise for the last four weeks are down more than two-thirds versus last year, Powell said.

After all, how many Ryan Howard jerseys do you need?

Born in bad times

One of the counterintuitive factoids I’ve heard during this damaging downturn is that recessions are a great time to start a company.

To support the notion, some experts trot out Microsoft and Apple as examples of two that got their start during the malaise of the ’70s. However, not every small business becomes a household name with a market capitalization in the many billions of dollars.

I asked Dane Stangler, a senior analyst at the entrepreneurship think tank Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, about the unconventional wisdom. He said survival rates of companies born during the last four recessions are no different from those launched during economic expansions.

In fact, the United States pretty consistently creates about 500,000 new businesses every year, he said. Most of them don’t survive to see their fifth birthday, so the nation needs a steady rate of new-company formation.

This year is likely to be no different. Stangler projects that more than 500,000 people will plunge into the entrepreneurial soup in 2009.

Quotable

To me, Atlantic City is in a long-term death spiral. They just don’t have what they need to compete with the local-option slot machines that are cropping up all over the place.

Dennis I. Forst, gaming analyst at KeyBanc Capital Markets, in an interview Thursday about the casino industry on Bloomberg Radio.

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