This February, 103MM Americans watched the Patriots beat the Rams in Super Bowl LIII. Super Bowls hold great significance for marketers and retailers across the United States; the Championship aside, it’s one of the important social events each year. Advertisers and brands use data to drive important decisions for the next year and beyond.
Retail is particularly interesting; many shoppers plan special festivities to accompany the game. Americans buy groceries beforehand and prepare meals for guests, others order take-out, and many enjoy the Super Bowl from bars or restaurants. How has retail, and the convenience channel in particular, performed in this environment?
In 2019, convenience stores enjoyed a strong Super Bowl. Total store Dollar Sales have increased by 7.4% vs. prior year (PY) on Super Bowl Sunday and by 6.2% in the six days leading up to the Super Bowl (ending Saturday). The growth surpassed the rate of Dollar Sales increase in January 2019 (vs. PY).
*Dollar Sales = total store sales
Cigarettes, Beer, and Sweet Snack categories had a healthy Super Bowl week, while Other Tobacco (from the ascent of JUUL), Salty Snacks, and Non-Alcoholic Packaged Beverages significantly outperformed projections from 2018.
However, Dollar Sales growth was not coupled with a universal increase in trips. In 2019, Super Bowl Sunday trips were up over 8% vs. a year ago, but followed a significant decline in the 6 days leading up to it. Growth in trips was entirely driven by what appears to be last minute shopping. Super Bowl Sunday growth in trips was over 3 times the rate of the month of January.
There is more evidence to the notion of ‘last minute shopping’ in the Convenience channel when examining the sizes of transactions leading up to and on Super Bowl Sunday. First, Shoppers spent overall more per Transaction in 2019 vs. 2018. Increased traffic did not diminish basket value (would have been a result of lighter buyers), and those who shopped leading up to Super Bowl Sunday, spent considerably more than last year.
Furthermore, Dollar Sales leading up to Sunday were heavily backloaded towards Friday and Saturday. The data shows an atypically high number of transactions early during Super Bowl Week of 2018, while 2019 trip patterns looks closer to expected sales, with traffic picking up on Friday, a significant jump two days before the event.
In summary, 2019 Super Bowl was a success in Convenience as measured by Dollar Sales growth vs. the prior year; and growth in traffic on the day of the event. What does this mean for the future? Growth in Dollar Sales is always encouraging, but the real story is the ability to capture trips leading up to Super Bowl Sunday with the right promotions and product mix; getting more shoppers into the store while maintaining or growing basket size. How can shoppers be encouraged to put more items in their baskets? Shoppers are likely to gravitate towards buying the total ‘Super Bowl package;’ Retailers should dial up their on-site foodservice offering (6.4% Growth in 2019) and edible grocery (5.9%) that compose complete meals for gameday. Dollar Sales have grown every year since 2017, but Convenience has an opportunity to jump the curve and retain the customers who might shop elsewhere, particularly leading up to Super Bowl Sunday 2020.