The 2012 London Olympics will set records in more than just athletics.
As the Games kicked off Friday, retailers went into overdrive, offering more than 10,000 official Olympics products–more than any other Olympic event in the past.
And as if one record weren’t enough, on July 13, the London Olympics organizing committee (Locog) opened London’s biggest ever pop-up shop outside of Hyde Park.
Organizers of the London games have openly stated that they hope to sell more than £1 billion (about $1.55 billion) in official merchandise, and there’s no denying the U.K. could use the money.
The first U.K. GDP estimate for the second quarter, released Wednesday, shows the British economy shrinking even more than expected, despite the boost of the Queen’s Jubilee in June, according to the Office for National Statistics.
The disappointing economic report has increased already sky-high expectations for the 2012 Games, which opened Friday and will continue through Aug. 12, giving the U.K. 17 days to bounce back in the third quarter.
Locog told the Wall Street Journal Thursday that merchandise sales of £1 billion would result in £80 million in profits and help balance its books.
“As well as giving people the opportunity to show their support, merchandise is also an important revenue source for funding the Games,” says Paul Deighton, chief executive, LOCOG.
Industry analysts and retailers are skeptical of the £1 billion, citing the tough economy and the unpopularity of this years’ Olympics branding, but with 5.3 million visitors expected to flood into the city over the next few weeks, the U.K. will have no shortage of customers.
The massive product range of official merchandise includes Union-Jack bed sheets and beach towels, limited-edition teddy bears costing about $130, four different kinds of rubber ducks, refrigerated lunch bags, cutlery, train sets, LEGO figures, Olympic Monopoly, replicas of the British team's uniforms and umbrellas.
Most of the items feature Wenlock and Mandeville, the official one-eyed mascots of the London Games, the British Union Jack or the 2012 Olympic logo.