Super Bowl Sunday: What’s at stake for restaurants?

Plenty, if you’re talking delivery. But it’s not such a boon for the standard brick-and-mortar place.
Photograph: Shutterstock

Not all of Super Bowl Sunday’s standout action takes place on the gridiron. A height of sports fans’ TV-viewing year, the championship smackdown has also evolved into a major sales and marketing opportunity for hustling restaurants. 

Two new reports show the potential of this year’s contest, specifically for delivery and local operations lacking a chain affiliation. 

Delivery’s blockbuster day

Four of every five 5 consumers with Super Bowl-related plans intend to buy food and beverages during the big game’s broadcast, according to a just-released study from the technology firm Motus. Nielsen pegged last year’s TV audience at 98.2 million.

Viewership has actually been declining since 2015, when the battle between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks set a high-water mark of 114.4 million viewers (the Patriots won, 28-24). But, the Motus study points out, restaurant- meal delivery has soared since that time. The number of consumers using third-party service’s’ ordering platforms has jumped 19% since 2017, and the number of restaurant patrons ordering directly from restaurants has climbed 10%, the report says. 

In total, 48 million consumers will order delivery during the Super Bowl this year, according to the study. That is projected to account for 3% of all third-party orders placed during 2020, it notes. Delivery vehicles will burn $20 million in fuel on that day alone, according to Motus (the company specializes in tech that measures mileage and related expenditures.). 

Pizza and chicken wings remain the most popular delivery items, according to Motus. Super Bowl Sunday is typically Domino’s second-busiest day of the year, behind New Year’s Eve, and not just because of the volume of pies it sells. The delivery pioneer expects to sell 4 million wings on game day, according to the study, out of a total of the 1.38 billion that are projected by the National Chicken Council projects to be consumed on that day. 

All but a few restaurants, however, will have to forego delivery sales of the other item consumed widely on Super Bowl Sunday: aAlcoholic beverages. During the two weeks leading up to the game, Americans are spending $1.2 billion on beer and $652 million on wine for consumption at home, according to projections from the Beer Institute, an association for the brewing industry.

A blocked punt for local operations?

The upsurge in off-premise business may help to explain why restaurants lacking a national affiliation aren’t likely to be cheering on the sidelines during the game. Those places are likely to see sales drop 19% below their usual intake for a Sunday and 14% below their average daily revenues, according to a report from Womply, a software company. 

The drop is less severe for local bars, which presumably feel less competition for delivery. Womply’s report says the average watering hole will see an 8% fall in sales from a usual Sunday. 

“Somewhat surprisingly, Super Bowl Sunday doesn’t appear to move the needle much for restaurants and bars nationwide, on average,” the report notes.

The major exception, the study notes, are pizzerias. Those places will likely see their sales jump 26% above the level of a normal Sunday, according to the data. 

The upswing is likely to be particularly sharp for pizza restaurants in San Francisco and Kansas City, the home cities of this year’s Super Bowl combatants, the 49ers and Chiefs. During the last Super Bowl, in whichwhere Boston’s Patriots humbled Los Angeles’ Rams by a score of 13-3, pizza joints enjoyed a 40% surge in sales for the day. Sales at Los Angeles pizzerias soared 68% beyond their usual Sunday level, the report says.

Restaurants outside of the pizza business saw their sales fall below their Sunday norm by 23% in Boston and 26% in Los Angeles.

Still, the biggest gainers were bars in Boston, which savored an 84% jump on game day from their daily average and an 18% increase from a run-of-the-mill Sunday. 

Womply’s findings are based on sales information from 36,000 restaurants and 3,100 bars nationwide.


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