Walmart Makes a Play for U.S. Sports Fanatics

The Motley Fool – Walmart (NYSE:WMT) has lagged behind Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) when it comes to licensed sports apparel and being able to offer certain prestigious brands in that space. But that’s no longer the case, as the retail giant has partnered with Fanatics to launch a specialty store selling licensed sports apparel on Walmart.com. As part of the deal, Fanatics will be the exclusive provider of officially licensed sports merchandise on Walmart.com moving forward.

Fanatics operates NFLShop.com, NBAStore.com, and MLBShop.com. It makes its own merchandise and sells a number of brands that Walmart previously did not have access to. This includes Nike (NYSE:NKE), New Era, Mitchell & Ness, and others.

Nike has sold select merchandise on Amazon.com since 2017. It has worked with Walmart’s Jet.com since October.

This deal fills a major hole for Walmart while greatly increasing distribution for Fanatics. It takes merchandise that consumers want and makes it easier for them to get it. That’s more important in a challenging retail climate where chains like Dick’s Sporting Goods (NYSE:DKS) lose a top rival in Sports Authority (back in 2016) and don’t show significant growth despite the reduced competition.

“The Fanatics partnership with Walmart will certainly benefit both companies,” Ken Morris, principal at BRP, retail consulting firm. “For Walmart, it increases the traffic on and brand image of the Walmart.com marketplace. As Walmart adds more leading brands to the marketplace, more consumers will think of it as a first place to do product searches, which Amazon currently dominates.”

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