Retailers say that the slow start to the Vikings' season likely will bring discounts on team merchandise.
One way to save cash is to buy off-season. Now that the Vikings are 0-4, fans can officially declare 2011-12 an "off season" and expect discounts on team jerseys, hats and hoodies.
With a shorter season than baseball and the strength of the conference -- including the undefeated Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions -- Vikings fans begin to break away when the season starts with four or five straight losses, said Steve Mocol, vice president of retail at Jacobs Trading liquidation in Hopkins.
"In pro sports, apparel sales definitely slow down when a team is doing badly," he said. "If they keep losing, their shirts won't move and there will be markdowns."
Sales of Vikings merchandise are down about 25 percent this season at Dome Souvenirs in Minneapolis, said manager Ray Crump Jr., but don't look for half-price sales on the $260 authentic jerseys.
Apparel retailers and liquidators say that pro sports apparel has two tiers. Protected apparel -- including the $80 replica jersey, the $100 premier and the $260 authentic -- doesn't have markdowns due to contractual obligations, Crump said. But the less expensive versions sold at Target, Kohl's, Wal-Mart and other stores could see markdowns soon.
Bargain hunters might wonder why Twins apparel didn't see markdowns in a season with 99 losses.
"It's the aura from the new stadium," Mocol said.
With an aging Metrodome and a lease that expires Feb. 1, the Vikings have more of a black cloud than an aura hovering over them.
But sports fans are optimists. When the Vikes win a couple of games, sales will pick up, Crump and Mocol said.