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Happy Missouri sports fans more likely to spend money

Thursday, October 24, 2013 | 7:14 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — When Missouri football wins, fans are more inclined to buy that extra container of ice cream at the grocery store.

Teams with winning records, such as the 7-0 Tigers, are expected to be good for local business. But fans' mood acts as a more subtle force motivating them to spend money on more than just hotel bookings and tailgates.

"If you're in a retail setting and feeling good, you're more likely to treat yourself," said Peter Bloch, professor of marketing at MU's Trulaske College of Business. "If you have a positive buzz after a big win, you're more likely to buy more."

Bloch said these short-term effects may be an attempt by consumers to capitalize on their winner's high.

"You're magnifying it by treating yourself," he said. "It could be sports or anything that puts you in a good mood — if you got a compliment at work or had a good workout."

This "high" may last longer than the few hours after the game. Lauren Price, a manager at Alumni Hall, an MU apparel and gift store near Columbia Mall, said she's noticed a change in customers' buying habits this season. She said customers aren't looking for bargains as much as in past years.

"Now it's whatever they can get their hands on," she said. "Price has become not a factor as it was before."

She estimated sales are as high as three times the store's weekly goals.

"Instead of being slower during the week and day to day, it's been steady," she said. "And we see big hits on the weekends."

Wins may also have more of an effect on consumer spending than hype. Price said the store saw a drop-off in sales after the beginning of last year's losing season, despite Missouri's debut in the Southeastern Conference.

Price said the store also did well in 2010, the last time the Tigers were ranked in the top 10, but sales are even better this year.

Researchers at the University of Miami studied the potential link between sports teams' success and the effect on the local economic environment. They found factors such as weather, political optimism and sports wins all affected statewide economic recovery from the recent recession.

The 2011 study showed that economic recessions are weaker in areas where individuals are more optimistic.

Bloch said these effects are more likely to occur for individuals who are more loyal fans.

"When (the team) is winning, they might be more elevated because they're more passionate," he said.

Columbia may also see an increase in spending from St. Louis Cardinals or Kansas City Chiefs fans. Marsha Collins of Clarence, Mo., was in Columbia on Monday, buying Cardinals World Series gear. She said she likes to get together with friends when her team wins.

"I think it just promotes people getting together," she said. "And then you buy food for that."

Luke Abney, a Kansas City native, said he bought a Chiefs hoodie at a game he recently attended.

"We probably wouldn't have gone if the team wasn't doing good," he said.

Abney said he has spent more time watching games with friends and splurging on snacks like cheese dip and pizza.

Beyond individual spending, Columbia can expect increased business when Missouri teams are winning, said Matt McCormick, president of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce.

"It's a trickle-down effect," he said. "Every year, the fan support, local support and out-of-town support is always great, but whenever we're having a season like we are this year, it ramps it up even more."

Participation in MU athletics events contributed to $188 million of economic stimulus in Columbia during Missouri's inaugural season in the SEC, according to an economic impact report commissioned by the Columbia Chamber of Commerce and Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau.

McCormick said the effects of a winning team can be felt beyond traditional sports markets such as apparel and sports bars.

"You would expect people to start having watch parties," he said, "so then that trickles down to our grocery stores and other food vendors. It's more diverse than just people selling sports gear or just bars showing the game. It starts hitting more businesses."

The 22-0 Missouri volleyball team is ranked No. 7. The next match is Friday against LSU in Baton Rouge. The No. 5 Tigers football team is undefeated going into Saturday's homecoming game against No. 21 South Carolina.

Supervising editor is Stephanie Ebbs.


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