Australian Open 2023: Merchandise and food prices cause outrage, huge lines, Ralph Lauren

A backpack with a $449 price tag and bucket hat selling for a whopping $129 has not put off tennis fans wanting to get their hands on official Ralph Lauren merchandise at the Australian Open.

On Friday evening the queue to get into the Ralph Lauren shop outside Rod Laver Arena was longer than the building itself.

There was an expensive range of merchandise on offer inside, including canvas backpacks with the words “LOVE AO23 POLO” for $449, canvas tote bags with the same words for $269, reversible bucket hats for $129, caps ranging from $89 to $99, AO branded zip-up jackets for $419 and hoodies for $249.

The items are also available to purchase on the brand’s website.

The Ralph Lauren branded merchandise for the AO is a lot more expensive than the standard merchandise available at the AO shops around Melbourne Park.

Food and drink vendors were also buzzing at dinner time on Friday.

The “Grand Slam Oval” area proved difficult to navigate with huge queues for food and drink, every table and chair taken, and the grass areas covered by people relaxing in the sun.

A bottle of water costs $5.60, a can of soft drink $5 or bottle $6, and a bag of Red Rock Deli chips $6.70 across vendors at the tournament.

A beer costs tennis fans about $13, a glass of wine or cider about $12, and a coffee $5.50.

A sausage roll or pie sets you back about $9, and most of the meals hovered around the $20 mark.

The queue for the popular Charcoal Fish located inside the “Beach Bar” area near Garden Square had about 100 people waiting. There the battered flathead and chips cost $26.

Social media users have called the prices of food and drink “ridiculous” but “unsurprising”.

“It’s price gouging to the max. I pack my own food for the AO these days,” one person wrote.

“That’s the beauty of being trapped in the sports precinct far from other options,” said another.

One person on Reddit wrote: “Went to the AO yesterday evening. It’s a great atmosphere, but definitely feels like you’re paying the premium there for everything … Must be a nightmare for families to stump up once you’ve bought the ground pass as well!”

But many have defended the vendors, claiming the businesses were paying significant amounts just to be there and told those complaining to pack their own food.

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