Super Bowl Fans to Splurge on 6 Million Wings, 4.5 Million TVs

Chicken wings and big-screen TVs may help drive Super Bowl spending past $10 billion this year for the first time as more Americans throw parties and crowd sports bars to root for the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers.

Buffalo Wild Wings Inc., a Minneapolis-based restaurant chain, predicts it will sell about 6 million wings for the Feb. 6 National Football League title game, up 9 percent from last year, Chief Executive Officer Sally Smith said in an interview. The most popular: honey barbeque and spicy garlic.

“Takeout is huge for us on Super Bowl Sunday, but we’re also seeing more dine-in guests,” said Smith, who expects the chain’s big screen projection, plasma and liquid-crystal-display TVs to draw customers. “We’re seeing a bit of an improvement throughout the industry.” People have “room in their budget for wings and a beer.”

Americans will spend an average of $59.33 on game-related merchandise, apparel and snacks this year, an increase of 13 percent from last year, the National Retail Federation said, citing consumers surveyed by BIGresearch. That pushes total spending to an estimated $10.1 billion, the most in the eight years that New York-based NRF has conducted the survey.

About 34.9 million Americans are planning to throw their own party this year, up from 31.6 million last year, Washington- based NRF said. Some 61.2 million plan to attend a party, an increase from 58.8 million in 2010, according to the survey.

Giant Tent

U.S. consumer spending has been accelerating. Household purchases, accounting for 70 percent of the economy, climbed 4.4 percent in the fourth quarter, the most since the first three months of 2006, the Commerce Department said last week.

The Super Bowl, at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, may bring out Pittsburgh and Green Bay transplants in Texas.

“We’re pitching a giant tent,” said Mike Quinn, co-owner of Malarkey’s Tavern, a hangout for Steelers fans in Dallas. Quinn, who’s serving Polish sausage in a nod to Pittsburgh cuisine, said he’s expecting more than 10,000 customers over Super Bowl weekend.

Vernon’s Grille, a haunt for Packers fans in Addison, Texas, will deep-fry cod and grill bratwurst, a German sausage, in anticipation sales may surge more than 50 percent, according to Chris Myrick, a co-owner.

“A close game will keep people on the edge of their seats,” said 27-year-old Myrick, who plans to spend as much as $20,000 on Super Bowl expenses including renting a 100-foot-by- 40-foot tent.

Super Bowl Wagers

The Packers have won a record 12 NFL championships, including three Super Bowl titles, while the Steelers’ six Super Bowl victories are more than any other franchise. The Packers are 2 1/2-point favorites to win by odds makers.

Super Bowl wagers in Las Vegas may top $90 million for the first time in three years, according to Jay Rood, sports book director at the MGM Mirage, and Jimmy Vaccaro, director of sports operations at Lucky’s Race and Sports Book.

In the run up to the Super Bowl, scheduled to be broadcast on News Corp.’s Fox network, the most-watched sport in the U.S. has had a season of record ratings on TV, according to researcher Nielsen Co. Last year’s Super Bowl on CBS was the most-watched TV program in U.S. history, with 106.5 million viewers, Nielsen said at the time.

Demand for TVs this year is projected to increase, with an estimated 4.5 million consumers intending to buy a new TV ahead of the game, compared with 3.6 million who said they planned to last year, NRF said.

Reduced Prices

Hhgregg Inc., the regional U.S. electronics retailer, lowered prices of some TVs by as much as 25 percent this week, including a 58-inch Samsung plasma selling for $1297.72, according to Jeff Pearson, a vice president.

“People want to get a TV for that Super Bowl party,” Pearson said in a telephone interview.

The week before the Super Bowl is one of three during the year, including Father’s Day and Thanksgiving, that Indianapolis, Indiana-based Hhgregg reduces TV prices the most, Pearson said. He declined to provide sales projections.

The cover of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s U.S. newspaper flyer this week promoted price cuts on pizza, chicken wings and a 40- inch Royal Philips Electronics NV flat-panel TV for $498, discounted by $100.

“We see that our business is pretty strong with the Super Bowl,” said Kevin O’Connor, a Wal-Mart vice president and general merchandise manager for electronics. He wouldn’t disclose sales projections.

At Malarkey’s Tavern in Dallas, co-owner Quinn says he is spending an extra $25,000 to provide valet parking service and to set up two 20-foot TVs.

“We are hoping it is going to pay off,” Quinn said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Burritt in Greensboro, North Carolina, at cburritt@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Robin Ajello at rajello@bloomberg.net.

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