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Big Screens for the Big Game

TV Sales Pick Up Before Super Bowl Sunday

By Mike Musgrove
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 5, 2005; Page E01

Peter Slattery isn't much of a football fan, but that didn't stop him from running out this week to plop down $3,500 on a new big-screen television, complete with accessories, to watch the Super Bowl.

After all, TV is to Super Sunday what turkey is to Thanksgiving or fireworks are to Fourth of July -- the centerpiece. And Slattery's is now a 55-inch high-definition monster from Mitsubishi.

Factory-to-dealer shipments of digital televisions increased 10 percent in December over November, as retailers prepared for brisk sales leading up to the Super Bowl. (Damian Dovarganes -- AP)

"I was going to get one in the next few weeks anyway," said the McLean resident, a 21-year-old shift manager for a CVS drugstore. "But I put some hustle on it because the Super Bowl was right around the corner."

According to the Consumer Electronics Association, factory-to-dealer shipments of digital televisions were up 10 percent in December over November, as retailers stocked up in anticipation of strong sales for the pro-football finale. The boost comes as more and more families are trading in their clunky, old color sets for big, flat, high-definition models. Digital TV sales reached 7.2 million units in 2004, up 75 percent from 2003.

"The Super Bowl is the unofficial national holiday to celebrate bad food and big-screen televisions," said CEA spokesman Jeff Joseph.

For consumer-electronics retailers, TV sales over Super Bowl weekend are on par with those during the last weekend before Christmas.

"January is typically our second-busiest month for television sales, and that is directly attributable to football," said Kate McKinnon, a spokeswoman for consumer-electronics retailer Tweeter, which has scheduled many deliveries for Sunday, something the store doesn't usually do.

In Philadelphia, where anticipation for an Eagles victory is running high, Circuit City has three or four times as many trucks as usual on the road this weekend because it guaranteed to deliver purchases for the 6 p.m. game, even if they are made as late as this afternoon.

Philadelphia Circuit City store manager Michael Shafer is enjoying the surge in TV business while it lasts: "Who knows when the Eagles are going to be in the Super Bowl again?"

Super Bowl TV sales tend to be strongest wherever the participating teams are based. A survey by Circuit City found that 20 percent of customers said they would buy a big-screen TV just because their team was in the Super Bowl.

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