4 Sure Bets For Super Bowl Spending

DALLAS (TheStreet) -- By the time football fans hit their remote's power button, watch a play or criticize a commercial on Super Bowl Sunday, they've already invested millions in the game.

Last year, according to Nielsen ratings, an estimated 153.4 million Americans watched part or all of the New Orleans Saints' victory over the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV, with the National Retail Federation estimating they spent $8.9 billion on the game.

With 13.8% of those watchers hosting Super Bowl parties and another 25.6% attending them, the cost of snacks, drinks, apparel and even new televisions -- which the NRF says 3.6 million Americans bought last year, despite spending almost 10% less on everything else -- adds up quicker than rushing yards against a banged-up defensive line. TheStreet took a look at pregame Super Bowl spending and found four areas Americans cherish more than an extra set of downs for the team they picked in the office pool. Regardless of the game's outcome, these four sectors all tend to come out ahead:

Pizza delivery
NFL pizza sponsor Papa John's ( PZZA) loves to throw around its estimate that Americans will eat 30 million slices of pizza on Super Bowl Sunday alone. Considering five times that many people watched the game last year, those 30 million slices scarcely seem like enough to go around. Still, Papa John's expects to send least 50% more pizzas out the door on Super Bowl Sunday than it does on any of the other Sundays on the calendar.

That's about 750,000 pizzas, but still short of its competitors at Domino's ( DPZ) -- which expects to sell 1.1 million to 1.2 million pizzas on game day at a 40% to 45% improvement over its typical Sunday output, according to spokesman Tim McIntyre.

Yum Brands' ( YUM) Pizza Hut, meanwhile, also expects a 50% increase, roughly 1.2 million orders and 1.7 million pizzas cycling through its ovens from kickoff to the presentation of the Vince Lombardi trophy. In light of last year's $10-a-pizza game special, that's $17 million in revenue without wings, pasta or any of the other add-ons.

Snacks
Want to know why your gym will be packed Monday, Feb. 7? Because Americans have no qualms about taking in 166 million pounds of snack foods including potato chips, tortilla chips, corn chips, pretzels, popcorn and nuts, according to Nielsen. That adds up to $644.7 million in snacks alone, translating to a 7%, $530 million first-quarter revenue spike for NFL snack sponsor Frito-Lay's parent company, PepsiCo ( PEP).

Lest shopping-savvy snackers think Doritos, Fritos, Tostitos and other PepsiCo products are the only ones pigging out on at the snack bowl, Nielsen found that more than 12% of all snacks sold come in the generic trappings of Kroger, Safeway, Supervalu and other store-brand bags.

Sports apparel
The Census Bureau's Monthly Retail Trade reports don't think much of your team's championship dreams. According to those reports, not only do post-Super Bowl sporting goods store sales tend to be lower than the month before -- usually by $20 million to $80 million within the past decade alone -- but they tend to be the lowest of the year. That said, three strong variables could help turn that around this year, as they did when the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII and sporting goods store sales in February 2008 outpaced those of a month before by more than $110 million.

First, as reported by the National Sporting Goods Association -- which includes such retailers as Dick's Sporting Goods ( DKS), The Sports Authority and New York-based Modell's among its members -- sporting goods store sales rose 38% between 2002 and 2007, with market share growing to 28.3% from 21.3% in that same span. Basically, sports fans are shelling out a lot more than they were a decade ago, with last February's $2.5 billion post-Super Bowl haul exceeding 2008's February mark by more than $20 million, 2007's pre-recession February tally by nearly $300 million and 2000's jersey-and-cap cash cow by nearly $700 million.

Secondly, chains such as Foot Locker's ( FL) Champs Sports, Big 5 Sporting Goods ( BGFV) and Sport Chalet ( SPCHA) benefit from having the Pittsburgh Steelers still in the playoff picture. The NFLShop ranked the Steelers No. 1 in overall apparel sales from April of last year through the end of the season, with Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu's jersey selling better than any other in the league during the same period.

The third promising development comes courtesy of the Green Bay Packers, whose small-market squad ranked eighth in the NFL in apparel sales and whose quarterback Aaron Rodgers came in seventh in jersey sales. Should they beat the Chicago Bears and make the Super Bowl, expect sporting goods retailers to be very happy; the last time Green Bay won the Super Bowl in 1997, they set a league record with $125 million in Super Bowl merchandise sales.

Televisions
Televisions are a considerable investment, but one the National Retail Federation says 3.6% of all Super Bowl-watching Americans made last year. NPD Group found flat-screen televisions grew from 43% of the market during Super Bowl week in 2006 to 94% in 2008, with popular LCD models growing to 79% from 23% in the same span. Since then, according to NPD and market research company DisplaySearch, average TV prices fell 22% in 2009 and another 6% last year. Yet TV shipments remained, well, flat for much of last year as unemployment led to only 0.4% growth in the first three quarters of this year compared with 2009.

This means that even after a slew of holiday sales, which NPD says increased TV sales 5% but decreased revenue by 2%, retailers such as Wal-Mart ( WMT) and Amazon ( AMZN) will be touting TV deals just in time for kickoff. Wal-Mart is already holding a "Game Time" sale featuring $600 Sharp 42-inch HDTVs, $750 Element 55-inch models ($800 with a home theater bundle) and a $480 Sharp HDTV with a home theater system.

-- Written by Jason Notte in Boston.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jason Notte.

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Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet.com. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Esquire.com, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, The Boston Phoenix, Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent.

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