Following the margin drubbing they took during the holidays in flat panel, retailers are extending their zero-percent financing offers rather than cutting TV prices for the Super Bowl.
While pricing on flat-panel and microdisplay sets has largely held to pre-Christmas levels, the competition in no-interest payment plans is heating up. Best Buy took the lead earlier this month by repeating last year's 36-month, interest-free offer on TV and home theater purchases totaling $999 or more, while Circuit City again promoted 24 months of no-interest payments on all TVs $499 and up.
Both chains also guaranteed delivery and installation before kickoff of all TVs 37W inches and larger that were purchased by Jan. 28 (Circuit City) or Jan. 30 (Best Buy).
But even no-interest promotions may be unnecessary to spur Super Bowl sales, according to a new survey by the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association (RAMA). The trade group's 2007 Super Bowl Consumer Intentions and Actions poll, conducted earlier this month, indicates that 2.5 million consumers plan to purchase a new TV for the big game, up from the 1.7 million who said they would last year.
The findings were supported by a separate Super Bowl survey commissioned by Circuit City showing a strong link between the sporting event and HDTV demand. Among the results:
60 percent of men and 49 percent of women said sporting events such as the Super Bowl prompt those who do not yet own an HDTV to want to buy one;
48 percent of respondents said they would rather view the game on a new HDTV than attend in person;
51 percent said they don't have an HDTV but want one; and
34 percent said they plan to buy a new HDTV within the next year.
In other Super Bowl news, the Maloney brothers of Cowboy Maloney's Electric City likely breathed a sigh of relief this month when the Chicago Bears beat the New Orleans Saints for the NFC championship. The Mississippi brown- and white-goods chain had held a special promotion last August to commemorate the Saints holding training camp at Millsaps College, CEO Con Maloney's alma mater in Jackson, Miss. The offer: buy a plasma, LCD or DLP TV and get a full refund (less tax) if New Orleans wins the Super Bowl.
A million dollars worth of TVs were sold during the promotion, Maloney told a sports columnist for The Advocate, a Baton Rouge, La., daily newspaper (although none of the 800 shoppers said their purchases were prompted by the free-TV offer). But the chain wasn't too worried. Despite the long odds, they bought insurance to cover half the amount and received commitments from vendors to help with the rest.
For more on Super Bowl promos, see p. 38.