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NATIONAL REPORT -- Are convenience store customers ready for some football? Seems so when you look at the promotions c-store retailers are offering around Sunday's big game.
According to a survey conducted by BIGinsight and sanctioned by the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association (RAMA), 173 million people will watch Super Bowl XLVI, up from 171 million last year.
There are several reasons why this year could be the most-watched event of all time. The New York Giants and New England Patriots represent New York and Boston, respectively -- two of the largest viewership markets in the United States. Both teams have superstar players, such as Eli Manning and Tom Brady, who have mass audience appeal and are performing at their highest level. There's also good hype that the game should be close, considering the two NFL conference championships were not decided until literally the last seconds. And let's not forget that the "Material Girl" herself, Madonna, will provide the musical performance during the halftime intermission, which is sure to add intrigue.
Even the commercials are expected to be prime entertainment with Matthew Broderick recreating his Ferris Bueller role in an ad for Honda; Jerry Seinfeld teaming up with the "Soup Nazi" to promote Acura vehicles; and Volkswagen following up its incredibly successful "Darth Vader" commercial from last year with a sequel titled "The Dog Strikes Back."
Of course, many of the 173 million people expected to watch the Super Bowl will make sure their stomachs are full throughout the game. That's where c-stores will play a prominent role. Total spending on the Super Bowl this year is expected to reach $11 billion, with the average game-watcher shelling out $63.87 on merchandise apparel and snacks, according to BIGinsight.
Nearly one third of the entire viewership for the big game, 48 million Americans, will order takeout or delivery food from a restaurant, such as those operated by c-stores, the National Restaurant Association estimated.
What will they eat? Pizza is sure to be a huge seller, along with various chips and other snacks. And the National Chicken Council projects that more than 100 million pounds of chicken wings will be consumed this weekend, according to its 2012 Wing Report.
"Hot on the heels of a solid holiday season, many retailers will look to meet consumer demand and expectations with big promotions on party essentials, including 3D televisions, team décor apparel and of course, food and beverages," Mike Gatti, executive director of RAMA, said in an interview with the National Retail Federation.
C-store retailers are certainly planning to take advantage of what will likely be the most-watched television event in history by loading up on Super Bowl-themed specials. The deals are especially prevalent in the Northeast, where both football teams call home.
New Jersey-based Quick Chek Corp. is among those promoting Super Bowl XLVI with food and beverage specials.
"We've recently re-launched our catering program, so most of the communication is tied to catering. We are advertising a $5 off coupon on any $30 or more catering order on our website and mobile [applications] apps," Jennifer Vespole, Quick Chek's director of foodservice, told CSNews Online. "We are also playing up the catering program inside our stores on our computer touchscreens."
The chain is running hot promotions in the snack, beverage and beer categories, too, she added.
Tedeschi Food Shops Inc. has many stores located in Massachusetts, which is considered Patriots Country, as well as in Connecticut, the state where fans of both teams intertwine. The c-store chain is offering plenty of Super Bowl promotions this weekend, but is not showing any allegiance to one team or another, of course.
Instead, Tedeschi -- operator of nearly 200 stores -- is focusing on the convenience factor its deli can provide. "Hit up TD's Deli for a Super Bowl-worthy party-platter!" the Rockland, Mass.-based chain promoted on Facebook. "Spend your Sunday morning warming up for the big game instead of heating up in the kitchen."
In another Facebook post, Tedeschi said, "Super Bowl has started." "We [sic] gotcha covered with everything from drinks & snacks to dinners & desserts."
Among the specials Tedeschi is currently offering are two 2-liter Coca-Cola Co. products for $2.50, and a mix-and-match deal of Tostitos and the brand's salsa for $6.
Xtra Mart Convenience Stores has taken its unbiased approach to the game one step further. A look at the North Grosvenordale, Conn.-based chain's Facebook page shows prominent members of its "like" list are both the Giants and Patriots. The chain asked its Facebook fans who they wanted to win the Super Bowl, while reminding them to pick up their snacks at Xtra Mart prior to the game.
Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes, headquartered in Canastota, N.Y., operates in an area that combines Giants and Buffalo Bills fans, with some New York Jets supporters sprinkled in. It's seeing Giants fans visit its stores prior to this Super Bowl.
The c-store chain usually sees customers stocking up on many items before the Super Bowl, and Matthew Paduano, vice president of category management for Nice N Easy, expects this year to be no different. "We expect to see increased sales throughout the weekend into Sunday," he said. "We also see a nice bump in our foodservice [sales] -- pizza, wings and subs -- for that day."
Although Paduano is a Dallas Cowboys fan, he will be rooting for the Giants because they are a New York team, he added. His prediction: The Giants will earn a hard-fought 31-30 victory.