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On Super Bowl Sales, ‘Staygating’ & Optimism

By the time you read this, you will know who won the Super Bowl — and, no, I don’t mean whether the Denver Broncos or Seattle Seahawks now own the Vince Lombardi trophy for the next 12 months.

I mean those who are among the winners of the annual Super Bowl TV sales season.

After all the gloom and doom headlines about disappointing retail holiday sales reports, when we finally see Super Bowl TV sales reports, I’m hopeful it may bring some optimism back into the market.

One underpublicized factor that many stock analysts who follow the retail sector have seemed to forget is that during October 2014, for a couple of weeks, our wonderful elected officials in Washington, D.C., shut the federal government down. This, at the very least, changed normal buying habits and may have spooked plenty of consumers.

Retailers were promoting big-screen TVs nationwide pretty heavily. Even though the teams were from the West, plenty of consumers use the Super Bowl as the reason (excuse?) to go out and buy the latest, greatest and largest TV they can to watch the game with family and friends. And retailers were imaginative in their promotions surrounding the Super Bowl.

One of the more interesting reports that broke during Super Bowl week was a survey by LG Electronics about consumers “staygating” — the practice of buying a nice, big flat-screen TV to enjoy the NFL, or any sport of your choice.

Many diehard fans without deep pockets for spending thousands of dollars on season tickets and infamous PSLs (personal seat licenses) — which costs thousands more to have the right to buy those tickets — are now shelling out for 60-inch and larger TVs.

Ultra HD TVs look relatively affordable compared with what sports teams charge to watch their events live — not to mention hyper-inflated prices for beer, snacks and parking — making the option of watching the action from the comfort of your own home much more attractive.

I first heard of the whole “staygating” phenomenon on local New York City sports radio with fans of the local NFL and baseball teams bitterly complaining that they are priced out of going to live games. Retailers and TV makers should really begin to market and advertise to this passionate, and now angry, demographic.

Getting back to retail sales and consumer confidence, the recent headline from the CEA report that confidence was soft in January — as always – Shawn DuBravac, CEA’s chief economist and senior research director, pointed to a hopeful sign: “However, the consumer electronics market is starting 2014 on a stable footing as the underlying economy continues to improve.”

Let’s hope that sentiment continues, and remember we’ll hear more from the execs on the front lines of CE sales, top retailers, in the TWICE Annual Retail Roundtable, which will appear in the next print issue of TWICE, Feb. 17.