British Columbia

Canucks tickets, merchandise sales hit 'historic' lows

Ticket vendors and business owners say they've been hit hard by the team's slump.

Local businesses say fans have walked away from the team and they're feeling the pinch

One local vendor says ticket sales are down by 25 per cent compared to previous years. (The Canadian Press)

Local business owners and ticket vendors say the Vancouver Canucks unpopularity has led to "historic" lows in ticket and merchandise sales.

​John Czveka, owner of Vancity Sports, said he's selling 50 per cent fewer Canucks jerseys than usual, despite slashing prices to an all-time low.

"We have jerseys at prices we've never had before, and it's still hard to move them. They're very hard to sell," he said. 

A jersey that usually retails at $140 now goes for $99.99.​

Czveka ordered less Canucks inventory than usual this year, anticipating that the items would not be big sellers. He said other items, including Winnipeg Jets apparel and Connor McDavid jerseys, have been flying off the shelves.

Czveka said the holiday season has done little to boost sales of his Canuck-branded items. 

"People are not jumping on the Canucks bandwagon just because it's Christmas unfortunately. We've been seeing this all year."

Local business feeling the burn

Jay Bomford, owner of Roxy's Burger, said the decline in interest has been noticed by the local pub and restaurant community for over a year now.

"There's definitely no pre-game or post-game rush anymore. We don't have people coming in and asking for us to turn the game on," he said.

"When people anticipate heading home disappointed, they tend to not come out at all."

Bomford said the decreased turnout doesn't appear to have anything to do with Vancouver fans' general enthusiasm, as other major sporting events have prompted massive turnouts.

"The women's FIFA and summer Olympics were incredible for us. We were actually amazed at the people that came out." he said.

"We're just not seeing that for the Canucks right now."

'It's a rebuild'

Kingsley Bailey, owner of Vancouver Ticket, said that despite ticket sales being down 25 per cent from previous years, he remains cautiously optimistic.

"We're at all-time low but on a good swing," he said. "It's a rebuild, but we've got two, three years, before we can really contend again."

In some cases, tickets are going for as low as $20.

Bailey said Canucks enthusiasts are often characterized as fair-weather fans, but he believes they're disappointed and astute. 

"They've been to the well three times now. We've been all the way to the Stanley Cup finals and come up with nothing. They're frustrated."

He added that decisions made by the franchise may have led fans to walk away from a team that should be adored.

"Ebbs and flows happen in sports but this is more than just one of these slumps. Mistakes have been made that led to a much more rapid decline for the fan base," he said.

Rebranding on the way

Back at Vancity Sports, Czveka observed the drop in enthusiasm is noticeable even on Vancouver streets.

"How much Canucks gear do you see walking down the street on a non game day? Five years ago you couldn't go two blocks without seeing a Canucks hat or jersey."

He said that savvy fans should get their jerseys now, as the team's apparel will be rebranded next year, leading to an inevitable jump in prices and interest.

Bailey shared the view that enthusiasm for the Canucks will return once the team starts winning again, especially once young talent is injected into the lineup. 

"The team will turn around," he said. "It always does."