NASCAR souvenir sales tank as racing loses the youth of America

NASCAR fans call it souvenir row, and for the last three decades, they have gone there to browse for hats and T-shirts at enormous truck rigs carrying their favorite driver's merchandise. But that tradition may become a thing of the past [as sales are way down because the youth of this country does not consider racing a sport.] NASCAR is in the early phases of re-evaluating its trackside merchandise program, and it is looking to make a change. The company two weeks ago sent a request for proposal to a dozen companies asking them to submit plans for how the sport could change the way it sells merchandise at races.

At a minimum, NASCAR is considering reducing the number of truck rigs along souvenir row, and possibly eliminating them altogether, in order to replace them with a more traditional retail concept like the tented stores set up at the entrance to PGA Tour events. NASCAR teams and tracks have offered their support for exploring a change.

The evaluation process follows years of declining merchandise sales in NASCAR. Sales reportedly fell from more than $2 billion in 2008 to $1 billion in 2010. Motorsports Authentics, the motorsports licensing company that was jointly owned by International Speedway Corp. and Speedway Motorsports Inc., nearly filed for bankruptcy, and SMI this year abandoned its stake in the business in order to realize tax benefits that outweighed owning it. Motorsports Authentics had been responsible for covering the cost of transporting 20-plus truck rigs to each of NASCAR's 36 Sprint Cup races. The cost of having those trucks crisscross the country became inefficient as merchandise revenue shriveled and attendance decreased at races nationwide. Sports Business Daily

[Editor's Note: Until the entire racing industry addresses the root cause of the problem, they can try all sorts of band-aids, but they are not going to stop decreasing attendance, decreasing TV ratings, and decreasing souvenir sales as the average age of a race fan spirals upward. The youth of America do not view racing as a sport because it is not in high school and college like other stick-and-ball sports. Until they work together and get the NCAA to agree to go-kart racing as a recognized sport, they can expect the sport to continue to decline.]

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