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Published: Tuesday, 1/29/2008

Area retailers tee up party fare

BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

The kickoff for Super Bowl XLII won't begin until 6:18 Sunday night, but the kickoff by area grocers and other retailers to capitalize on it has taken place.

Most retailers have stocked up on processed meats, shrimp, cheeses, chips, dips, cookies, cakes, and beverages in anticipation of demand that usually starts two days before the professional football championship game.

"The Super Bowl is a big non-holiday. In fact, as far as non-holidays go, it's probably the biggest non-holiday," said Dale Hollandsworth, a spokesman for Kroger Co.

About 158 million people plan to watch this year's game between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants, a National Retail Federation survey found. Of those, two-thirds will buy food and beverages and 6 percent will buy team apparel and accessories.

Overall, per-person spending will be $60 on merchandise, up from $56 last year, the trade group found. Total spending is expected to reach $9.5 billion.

Tom Shea, manager of Joseph's Beverage Center in Toledo, said sales of non-alcoholic drinks, beer, wine, and liquor are usually 25 percent higher than on a normal weekend in January.

"It's not as big as Christmas or Thanksgiving. But our Sunday sales usually double," Mr. Shea said.

The Super Bowl is a huge night for pizza sales. Domino's Pizza said that nationally it anticipates delivering more than 1.2 million pizzas on Sunday, a third more than on a typical Sunday.

Specialty restaurant Buffalo Wild Wings, which features large-screen TVs, expects to do exceedingly well. "It will be our biggest day of the year for takeout orders," said Traci Micheau, spokesman for the six northwest Ohio restaurants.

"Our take-out orders are going to be through the roof, and we expect a full house in addition."

Mr. Shea, of Joseph's Beverage, and other retailers said that Super Bowl Sunday probably ranks fifth annually in weekend sales, behind Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, and July Fourth weekend.

"It's a bounce. That's for sure," said Walt Churchill, of Walt Churchill's Market in Monclova Township. "You get a shot to supply for parties that you wouldn't normally get this time of year."

Retailers have been stocking up for four weeks.

Kroger, for example, held a meeting to plan its Super Bowl sales on Jan. 8, the day after Ohio State University lost to Louisiana State in the BCS Championship game.

"We talked about how much product did we think we'd need," Mr. Hollandsworth said. "How many buns, how many rolls, cases of chips. You have to start to prepare so there's adequate product in the store by the time the Super Bowl week comes."

Bassett's Market in Perrysburg started work on preparing cheese trays.

"We are building up inventories," said store manager Darlene Carmona, who compared the Super Bowl to Michigan-Ohio State football weekend in terms of items sold.

"This is going to be a very big weekend for us," she said. "We'll sell a lot of snack foods, subs, deli items, bakery goods."

Contact Jon Chavez at: jchavez@theblade.com or 419-724-6128.



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