2014 Masters: How Weather Affects Concessions and Masters Merchandise Inventories

Posted on April 10, 2014 | in 2014 Masters, Golf, Inventory, Lean Wastes, Manufacturing, Scrap, Sports, Transportation | by
augusta national golf club masters 2013 material handling warehousing

The cooler-than-normal weather conditions during The Masters will affect the inventory and production of concessions and merchandise in different ways.

Typically springtime weather in all parts of the country is crazy and hard to predict, but the last three years have seen upwards of 90-degree temperatures during The Masters Tournament in Augusta. Lots of sun, infrequent patches of rain here and there, and consistently warm temperatures have been the norm recently in early April. However, this season has already seen an ice storm strike down an iconic course landmark that will affect tournament play, a practice round cancellation, and cooler-than-normal forecasts. The weather will have impacts on two other revenue-generating outlets as well: concessions and Masters merchandise sales.

Concessions

masters concessions

Most concessions offered by Augusta National during The Masters are easily reordered and restocked locally or are maintained in small inventories.

Very few concessions offerings by The Masters are prepackaged in special wrappers and ordered in mass quantities prior to the tournament. Examples of these would be candy, chips, Moon Pies, and peach ice cream sandwiches. The rest of the items are cooked or produced in small batches or quickly reordered locally and restocked.

– Sandwiches (ham or turkey, sausage biscuits, barbecue sandwiches, chicken wraps, pimento cheese sandwiches, egg salad sandwiches) are either prepared and packaged the evening before or during the day in a facility in close proximity to Augusta National (presumably across the street if my information is correct).
– Fresh fruit is purchased from grocery stores locally on an as-needed basis.
– Drinks such as beer, cola, tea, lemonade, coffee, and sports drinks are reordered from local vendors and restocked.

As a result, food and drink inventories are low. Cup inventories are ordered in mass quantities but ordered (I believe) from local vendors that can reprint the official concessions cupware as needed with a quick turnaround time.

When the weather forced the cancellation of Monday’s practice round after 10 a.m. the impact on already-prepared food was very minimal because the weather forecast was closely monitored by the concessions management and production was halted when the management knew that afternoon concessions demand would be zero (due to no one being around to make purchases). Prepackaged foods could be used again the next day, drinks could remain in the coolers and used the next day, and very little food would go to spoil (the heated sandwiches already cooked and placed on the shelves).

At the end of Masters week a lot of the prepackaged foods like candy and Moon Pies are stocked out but the made-on-demand foods are easily replenished to fulfill the food demands of the patrons.

Merchandise at the Golf Shop

masters merchandise

Most merchandise for sale at The Masters is not locally produced so stockouts are not replenished. (Golf Digest)

Merchandise at the golf shop, on the other hand, is handled less “locally” than concessions. While it’s true that a lot of The Masters merchandise will sell out by the time the green jacket is slipped onto the winner’s shoulders, sometimes a lot of potential sales opportunities are left on the table because of stockouts way too early.

Clothing items are designed to be exclusive to Augusta National and The Masters, but they are produced overseas. Last year I purchased polo shirts for friends that came in plastic wrappers labeled “Made in China”, and this year I have a snappy new Peter Millar pullover whose tag indicates production in Thailand. Pretty standard for any clothing offering.

Because of the overseas production and subsequent time and transfers resulting from transportation over multiple thousands of miles, Masters merchandise production has to start really early in the year. Orders must be placed weeks, if not months, in advance. Quantities needed for the tournament week must be predicted based on weather forecasts that struggle with accuracy more than seven days in advance, let alone seventy days. Merchandise coordinators place orders to Asia early and hope that the demand for the items are close to expectations.

Well I’m betting that, if the coordinators relied on past weather results to predict what might happen to demand this year, they weren’t predicting such a mild weather week in Augusta for The Masters. Heck, the weather (and its impact on the course itself) was hard enough to predict when it came to printing media guides.

Cooler weather will lead to increased consumption of coats, pullovers, and long-sleeved gear. When and if they stock out before players make the tournament cut, there won’t be any viable way to restock the now-gone-forever items. Those sales will be left on the table. Also, it’s possible that short-sleeved items won’t sell out like they have in years past. And of course we’ve already covered the reprinting of calendars due to the weather.

Look, Masters merchandise is already extremely pricey to begin with because of the high demand and exclusive sales window (merchandise is only for sale during the seven-day tournament week). The margins are through the roof for clothing sales because of the high price tag and low cost of manufacture (transportation notwithstanding). If Augusta National gave stronger consideration to using local suppliers for their merchandise production the margins might be lower but inventories could be kept smaller, transportation costs reduced, and reproduction and restocking of stocked-out items could lead to fewer sales being left on the table.

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