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Pokémon, Rio2016 Merchandise Ride Summer Sales Wave

The pop culture and sports events of the summer have created a groundswell of demand for related licensed merchandise. According to reports, Pokémon-related merchandise sales built through July and could be on track to remain high through the holiday season. Meanwhile, retailers selling Rio2016 merchandise are winning gold, several of them recently told Forbes.

Pokémon Go

According to Adobe Digital Insights, which tracks sales on the top 500 U.S. ecommerce sites, Pokémon-related merchandise sales rose 91% year-over-year even before Pokémon Go was released. In the month since, Bloomberg reported using the Adobe Digital Index, merch sales are up 105% from the same period last year. After the game’s launch, licensed apparel sales rose about 85%, toy sales grew about double that, or 170%, and licensed electronics sales has a 200%-plus gain. See our story on Pokémon Go here for more on the franchise’s licensing program.

Pokémon Go Debuts

July 6: U.S., Australia, New Zealand

July 13: Europe (began in Germany and the U.K. and rolled to more than 2 dozen countries over 10 days)

July 17: Canada

July 22: Japan

Pokémon Go continued to rollout in territories around the world through the first part of August, and if consumer interest in the 20-year-old brand continues, product sales could remain high through the back-to-school and holiday seasons, analysts believe. Among major retailers dealing in Pokémon paraphernalia, Build-A-Bear Workshop is currently sold out of special Pokémon toys in stores and online, and GameStop said overall sales are up 100% in stores that are PokéStops or gyms.  “Of course, our Pokémon merchandise is up significantly across the board,” GameStop CEO Paul Raines told CNBC several weeks after the game’s launch. “We’re very happy to see all this excitement around Pokémon for what is traditionally a slower time of the year for gaming.”

Some upcoming new product may help extend the demand for Pokémon products.

  • Pokémon Go Plus – Wearable accessory was originally scheduled for release in mid-July but has been delayed until September. The button-sized peripheral connects to player’s smartphone with Bluetooth and allows the player to catch Pokémon with the push of a button without looking at the phone. Preorders priced at $35 sold out at GameStop, and the device, which can be clipped to clothing or worn as a bracelet, is now being offered by Amazon third party sellers for as much as $275.
  • Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon – Franchise’s newest Nintendo 3DS games will be released Nov. 18.


On the Olympics front, Jack Boyle, president of merchandising for Fanatics, the e-retailers of sports branded merchandise, told Forbes that sales of Rio2016 were running 50% ahead of the London 2012 Summer Olympics,

the best Games for sales previously. Sales have been spurred by mobile shopping, and by what viewers have seen Olympic athletes wearing when they are out of uniform, as well as team-specific support, according to Fanatics. A specific Nike Team USA hat, for instance, became a top seller after some Team USA basketball players wore it in the stands as spectators of some live televised swimming competitions.

On site in Rio, Forbes reported, Olympics-related products including a Lego set to build Vinicius, the Rio2016 mascot, and the class Brazilian Havaianas flip-flops were selling briskly.


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