Super Bowl-Related Sales Approach $10 Billion

As the fan drama builds--what's with Tom Brady's walking cast? Is Eli Manning ready for all the pressure?--American retailers are putting on their game face, too.

The Retail Advertising and Marketing Association says it expects the Big Game to generate nearly $10 billion in sales this year. And it's not just guacamole and such (although beer, chips, avocados, ice cream, frozen pizza and chicken products are the perennial best-sellers): this year, consumers are expected to spend even more than usual on such big-ticket items as TVs and furniture.

Apparently, Patriots and Giants fans haven't heard about the looming recession. Based on its survey of nearly 8,500 consumers, conducted by BIGresearch, RAMA says about 3.9 million people plan to buy a new TV--up more than 50% from 2.5 million last year. In addition, viewers plan to purchase 1.8 million pieces of furniture--up from 1.3 million last year.

Much of the spending is concentrated on young adults 18-24, who are just feathering their nests. Nearly 10% of this age group say they plan to buy a new TV before the game, and 1 in 20 (4.9%) will buy new furniture.



The survey found that 158 million people--70% of consumers--say they intend to watch the Super Bowl this year. Of those, 67.4% plan to buy food and beverages, and 6% will buy team apparel and accessories. On average, consumers say they expect to spend $59.90 on Super Bowl-related merchandise--up from last year's $56.04. Total spending for the Feb. 3 game, RAMA says, is expected to reach $9.5 billion.

The good news for marketers is that 41.5 million consumers (36.3%) say they will watch the games just because of the commercials. But a sizeable minority hate the ads: 18% say they wish the companies would just save their money and pass it along to consumers, 11.1% think they just make the game too long, and 4.3% say they're bothersome.

Retailers, smarting from weaker holiday sales and beset by economic jitters, are looking to make the most of Super Bowl Sunday. Circuit City, for example, is again offering its Super Bowl TV delivery and installation guarantee. For consumers who place an order on a 32-inch or larger TV by 4 p.m. on Wednesday, the electronics company guarantees to have it up and tuned to Fox in time for the big game.

If delivery is late, customers get a $50 gift card. (Circuit City also polled 3,300 customers, and found that 50% of men and 33% of women say the Super Bowl is their favorite televised sporting event. For men, the World Series runs a distant second at 10%, and for women, it's the Olympics, at 17%.)

And Sears' online Ultimate Football Experience program even includes a helpful feature called a "convincer," which e-mails your significant other a begging, pleading, tearful message, which men can personalize. ("I promise you can get one of those really expensive handbags" and "You can get a dog that will never get bigger than 20 pounds" are two options.)

La-Z-Boy is running an armchair quarterback special, with $100 off select models and the chance to win a $25,000 "Ultimate Armchair Quarterback Room."

And even highbrow Williams-Sonoma is playing the game, enticing online users with recipes for easy hot wings, six-hour chili and an online special on perfect beer mugs and Vintage Football Plates.

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