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Three-thousand miles apart, two teams are preparing for the biggest game of the year, along with the millions of fans who will be cheering them on.  According to a new survey by the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association, a division of the National Retail Federation, conducted by BIGinsight, more than 179.1 million people will watch the game Sunday, February 3, the most in the survey’s nine-year history and up from an estimated 172.5 million last year. The average game watcher will spend .54 on new televisions for viewing parties, snacks, décor and athletic apparel, up from .87 last year. Total Super Bowl spending is expected to reach nearly .3 billion.*

Gathering with friends and family for the Super Bowl is an American tradition, and this year it seems consumers are in the mood to celebrate, which is good news for retailers who typically see slower online and foot traffic during these months,” said NRF Senior Vice President Bill Thorne. “As one of the biggest weekends of the year for sports fanatics, we expect to see a variety of promotions in the coming days surrounding appetizers and drinks at restaurants, football décor, athletic apparel and of course, new TVs.” 

The survey found most people intend to buy food and beverages to celebrate the game: nearly three-quarters (74.0%) of those watching the game will buy wings, pizza, chips, soda and more for themselves and/or their guests. Additionally, 3.9 million households will buy new furniture items, such as entertainment centers, chairs and couches, and 7.5 million will buy decorations. Given the popularity of the teams this year, a whopping 17.0 million fans will buy team apparel or accessories to support their team, up from 14.8 million last year. 

Retailers planning promotions on televisions in the coming weeks are in for a treat. According to the survey, of those planning to watch the Super Bowl, more than 7.5 million households (7.1%) will buy a new television, compared to 5.1 million last year.  Young adults (ages 18-24) are the most likely to purchase new televisions; of those planning to watch the game, 15.6 percent will watch it on a new high-definition TV, the highest of any age group. 

When it comes to soirees, there will be no shortage of party-goers this year: the survey found 39.4 million people (16.6%) will throw a party, and another 59.9 million (25.2%) will attend a party. More than 10.1 million (4.3%) people will watch the game at a restaurant or a bar. 

With planned viewership rising this year, it appears that an increasing number of people are finding Super Bowl Sunday the perfect excuse to get together, show off that new TV, try a new recipe, or simply shake off the winter blues for a night,”  said BIGinsight Consumer Insights Director Pam Goodfellow. “Ever wary of their budgets, consumers will be on the lookout for those hard-to-beat deals on TVs, food, and other Super Bowl-related items that they’ve come to expect from retailers as they plan their gatherings this year.”

Consumers of all ages enjoy the Super Bowl for different reasons, and the commercials are increasingly becoming a primary form of entertainment. More than three-quarters of viewers (76.6%) say they see the commercials as entertainment, up from 73.0 percent last year. Overall, when asked what they thought was the most important part of the Super Bowl, 45.3 percent of viewers said it is the game, and more than one-quarter (26.2%) agreed it is the commercials. Additionally, 18.8 percent say they like getting together with friends and 9.6 percent say the Half Time Show is what matters most to them. 

For advertisers, commercials are more than entertainment, they are a way to increase awareness of a brand or service, and they’ve got an unusually captive audience. The survey found 19.5 percent say the commercials make them aware of the advertisers’ brand and another 10.5 percent say the commercials influence them to buy products from advertisers – the highest percentage reported in the survey’s history.