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Retailers Hope Super Bowl Sparks TV Sales

Fuse, Getty Images

For $4,200, you could travel to Indianapolis and watch the Super Bowl in person, airfare and hotel stay included. Or, you could buy an 80-inch Sharp LED television, sit on your couch with a fistful of Doritos and bask in the up-close-and-personal coverage.

Asked what he would do, Tony Flores, a Giants fan from Hazlet, didn’t need to consider it for very long, particularly after thinking about the 55-inch Sony TV he purchased last year. Stay home.

“It’s just the convenience of being home,” Flores said. “I don’t know if I’d spend $4,000 on a TV.”

Retailers in central New Jersey are pushing the latest high-definition televisions for the Super Bowl, hoping the year’s most widely watched broadcast gives them a sales jolt, now that the holiday shopping season is over.

They stand to be busy. Consumers are being rewarded as manufacturers, trying to cope with what has become a saturated market, are slashing prices to maintain sales. And consumers more often are deciding that the purchase pays off in the long run; watching the game at home is just as good as — and less expensive than — being there.

“I think going into this year, conventional thinking was this slow recovery of the economy would affect TV sales,” said Ben Arnold, an analyst with the NPD Group based in Port Washington, N.Y. “I think discounts have been so good, better than they’ve ever been. That has really pushed boxes out the door.”

The Super Bowl attracted 111 million viewers for last year’s matchup between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers. And interest is likely to be even higher this year in this area, with the hometown Giants taking on the New England Patriots.

Retailers are banking on it. P.C Richard, for example, was promoting free delivery and setup for consumers who spend at least $799 on HDTVs. And Best Buy employees said customers buying a Sony and Samsung TV for $1,200 also would get a free DVD player and installation.

Managers at Best Buy in Holmdel said they will ramp up staffing next week. General manager Anthony Bonevento and home theater expert Adam Zwickler, both diehard Giants fans, recalled the last Giants-Patriots Super Bowl in 2008. Customers flocked to the store, they said.

On Super Bowl weekend that year, “I pulled all the TVs from the warehouse and said, ‘Here you go, here you go,’ ” Bonevento said.

Not that he was giving them away. U.S. consumers spent $12.4 billion on flat-panel TVs in 2011, down from $13 billion in 2010 — not because retailers sold fewer sets, but because prices came down, Arnold said.

The downward pressure on prices appears to be a matter of supply and demand. About 87 percent of Americans own at least one high-definition television, up from 41 percent just four years ago, according to the Consumer Electronics Association, a trade group.

Industry experts, however, said consumers are finding that the lower prices allow them to spend the same amount of money on larger and larger sets. Consumers also are finding new advances on the market, from so-called smart TVs that combine Internet and television functions to TVs that can support 3D broadcasts.

 

Information from: Asbury Park Press, http://www.app.com

 

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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