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Grocers, pizzerias double up on supplies for Super Bowl parties

Kevin Castle • Jan 31, 2009 at 12:00 AM

The chips are double stacked, twice the pizza dough is rising, and rack upon rack of beer is chilling.

When it comes to the Super Bowl, area merchants must double their efforts to meet the need for game-time parties.

“That’s a given. We always end up sending out twice the ingredients the week of the game because demand is that high,” said Papa John’s Pizza corporate spokeswoman Tish Muldoon.

Papa John’s expects to make 750,000 pizzas on game day, and since the NFL playoffs began earlier this month, Papa John’s estimates it will top 3 million pizzas sold.

“It is one of our top days for the whole year for selling and making pizza. With our Internet sales, it makes things even busier,” said Muldoon.

A recent survey from the National Retail Federation shows consumers are still going to spend major dollars on party favors and supplies, but they do plan on scaling back a bit because of the current economic climate.

An estimated audience of 167 million TV viewers will catch the game Sunday (6 p.m. on NBC), and those hosting parties plan to spend an average of $57.27 on food — a decrease of nearly $2 from last year.

The federation estimates that food and all related expenditures — including new furniture, TVs and fan apparel — will add up to $9.6 billion.

Food City on Eastman Road in Kingsport almost always receives double orders on snack items and beer days before the Super Bowl, said manager Ed Moore, although displays enticing consumers to purchase goodies have been ratcheted down from years past.

“We used to have a lot of cardboard cutouts, stand-ups and other trinkets set up, but that has kind of leveled out because the companies know people having Super Bowl parties are going to be out in the store,” said Moore.

He noted that the store’s bakery and deli departments must also be on their game because of the demand from party planners who need fruit, meat and vegetable trays.

“The convenience of (the trays) makes them popular because people can just get in and out quicker, and it gives them time to prepare other things for the party. They also have to make sure they have double the supplies to stay even with the customers we get,” Moore said.

While some shoppers do plan ahead, Moore said his store always stays busy the day of the game with last-minute buyers.

“I’d say the stream stays steady from 12 noon until about 5 p.m. That’s right before kickoff, then it calms down,” he said.

When it comes to watching the game itself, the National Retail Federation survey shows 46 percent tune in solely for the game, while 26 percent want to see the commercials and 19 percent see it as an opportunity to get together with friends.

Although the struggling economy is forcing some retailers and companies to scale back on their usual big-budget commercials, Variety reports that NBC is still fetching $3 million per 30-second ad for this year’s game.

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