By Santiago Carbone
Montevideo, Sep 12 (EFE).- Sales of World Cup albums and stickers are booming in Uruguay, with 25,000 retail outlets looking to cash in on the enthusiasm there for soccer’s showcase event.
Long lines that formed outside the official Panini store in Montevideo and promotional posters in the capital’s main thoroughfare are evidence of the frenzy ahead of the tournament, which will be held in Qatar from Nov. 20. to Dec. 18.
“We launched the collection on Aug. 20, and the truth is it’s been a success. It’s exceeding our expectations,” Panini’s sales manager in Uruguay, Nicolas Lerner, told Efe.
While he was speaking, several people entered the store located in downtown Montevideo to buy World Cup stickers. Estimates are that, all told, more than 9 million five-sticker packets will be sold in that South American country.
Lerner also spoke about the sales opportunity for retail outlets, noting that shops that do not typically sell Panini merchandise see the World Cup albums and stickers as a timely business opportunity.
Stickers from different Panini collections are typically available at between 3,000 and 5,000 points of sale, but that number soars to nearly 25,000 when the World Cup collection is launched every four years.
One of those outlets is a kiosk located on Montevideo’s main avenue and managed by Washington Seoane, who spoke with Efe about the stickers (known in Uruguay as “figuritas.”)
Lamenting that the sale of newspapers has fallen markedly, he said sticker sales are providing a much-needed lift.
“I’m selling an average of 150 to 200 packets a day,” each of which costs 40 Uruguayan pesos (just under $1).
For his part, Antonio Ameijenda, president of Cambadu, an association that represents retail shopkeepers, bar owners and other small businesses in Uruguay, told Efe there are no specific sales figures for those items but that they have significant appeal and help boost other types of sales for a period of time.
While fans are eager to obtain the stickers of superstar players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi and Neymar Jr., the “figuritas” of Uruguayan players are the most sought after – both veteran greats like Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani and young stars such as Federico Valverde and Darwin Nuñez.
Journalist Daniel Rodriguez has been an avid World Cup album and sticker collector since 1990 and even bought a special Panini collection containing all of the albums sold since the inaugural edition in 1970.
“There are some curious things” in previous albums, he said. “For example, in the Germany 1974 album you find executives … Now (the albums) are much more attractive.”
He said the most difficult album to complete was the one for the 1994 World Cup in the United States.
“The album is a great souvenir, but it’s also a good guide and preview. There were editions that contained a lot of information and (allowed you) to familiarize yourself with some players, especially on the lesser-known sides,” Rodriguez said. EFE