Charlotte-area businesses gear up for Super Bowl Sunday

FILE PHOTO: Michael Cook, a retail salesperson at Queen City Audio Video and Appliances, set up banks of televisions.
FILE PHOTO: Michael Cook, a retail salesperson at Queen City Audio Video and Appliances, set up banks of televisions.

More than 100 million Americans are expected to tune into the Super Bowl on Sunday, and while the Panthers aren’t playing this year, Charlotte-area businesses are looking to cash in on everything from food orders to electronics.

The average viewer of Sunday’s matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots will spend an estimated $77.88, up 14 percent from last year, according to an analysis by the National Retail Federation. The bulk of those surveyed said they would watch from home – and local businesses are hoping that translates into big sales.

“Each year with the Super Bowl it seems like our sales just continue to increase for that day,” said Zach Current, a founder and co-owner of Fuel Pizza. “We add extra delivery drivers, extra people to answer the phones and extra pizza makers. We’re just prepping for the craziest hour and a half to two hours that you can imagine.”

At Fuel Pizza’s eight Charlotte-area locations, Super Bowl Sunday will be one of the busiest days of the year when all 160 employees will be working, Current said. It could be as big for business as the playoff game the Panthers played at home against the Arizona Cardinals earlier this month.

“That was a great warm-up for us because it was like the city’s (own) Super Bowl,” he said.

Normally delivery and carry-out account for about 35 percent of Fuel’s sales. But during the Super Bowl, they’re about 65 percent. Each restaurant, Current said, will make a pizza a minute for the two hours leading up to kickoff – between 750 and 1,000 pies total.

Chicken wings have become another hot game day item: The National Chicken Council estimates that America will eat 1.25 billion wings on Sunday. Fuel will sell about 35,000 wings, or 15 cases per store, Current said.

Also known for its wings, D.D. Pecker’s will have all eight employees working and will sell up to 12,000 wings at its Park Road restaurant, quadrupling an average day’s sales, owner Justin Holland said.

Holland said sales will be strong because of the popularity of both teams playing. Another driver of spending is the improved overall economy, retail analysts say. That’s given many Americans the confidence and wherewithal to buy big-ticket items, which retailers are already eager to clear out in the quieter post-holiday months.

The NRF’s survey predicted Americans would buy 8.8 million new televisions in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl.

“People want to have parties at their houses and they want to show off their new TV. We’d probably sell more if the Panthers were playing but we’re still selling a lot of TVs despite that,” said Roddey Player, president and CEO of Queen City Audio Video and Appliances.

TV sales at the stores are up by about 15 percent this year, driven especially by larger, high-definition TVs, Player said, which are especially popular for watching sports.

Prices on televisions with ultra-high-definition – also known as 4K resolution – are down by 50 percent from last year at Best Buy, thanks to lower manufacturer prices, according to Josh Warren, general manager of the company’s Rivergate store. He said the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this month and football season together have helped to generate more interest in the new TV technology.