STORES SEEK BIG SCORES FOR SUPER BOWL

Retailers are hoping to ride the wave of deli sales from the holiday season straight through Super Bowl Sunday.Many deli executives interviewed by SN about plans for the big game said they will feature a full range of party trays, submarine sandwiches and chicken. Several said they are offering dollars-off coupons for party orders.Building on the success of its holiday party tray promotions, Acme

Retailers are hoping to ride the wave of deli sales from the holiday season straight through Super Bowl Sunday.

Many deli executives interviewed by SN about plans for the big game said they will feature a full range of party trays, submarine sandwiches and chicken. Several said they are offering dollars-off coupons for party orders.

Building on the success of its holiday party tray promotions, Acme Markets of Virginia, Tazewell, Va., an 11-unit retailer, included a $2 off coupon with each of the party tray orders sold between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The coupon for $2 off the next party tray order is valid from Dec. 26 through March 31, said Terry Volk, deli/bakery director.

"Our purpose was to increase business in the weakest sales quarter of the year, and also to target people planning for parties for New Year's and Super Bowl. We already had several coupons returned for New Year's and we are hoping for another big boost Super Bowl weekend," Volk said.

Acme is also promoting a foot-long submarine sandwich this week before the big game.

Roundy's Pick 'N Save, Milwaukee, plans to test a buy-one-get-one-free promotion featuring its homemade fresh dough deli pizza in one corporate Pick 'N Save store the Friday and Saturday before Super Bowl Sunday, said Diane Jackson, bakery-deli operations manager.

The promotion will be supported with in-store fliers and sampling. Four varieties will be featured: cheese, cheese and sausage, combination sausage and pepperoni, and pepperoni, she said.

The other stores will promote snacks, salads and cheese spreads for Super Bowl, as in previous years.

"We expect deli sales to be better this year for Super Bowl based on the amount of increase we had in deli sales over the holidays. The party trays did especially well. We did a mailing of our party tray brochure this year and that really made a difference," Jackson said.

"Last year we found that we did more party tray business for Super Bowl than for New Year's," Jackson said.

Seaway Food Town, Maumee, Ohio, anticipates a 10% to 15% increase in deli sales this year for Super Bowl, said Pat Nowak, director of public relations and consumer affairs for the 45-unit chain.

"Last year we did very well. More and more people seem to be going to a house party situation for Super Bowl, which we tie right into. We also had very good holiday sales in the deli," Nowak said.

The retailer plans to feature rotisserie chicken for the first time this year, she said. Other featured items include party trays, submarine sandwiches and fried chicken.

While the featured items will not necessarily be reduced in price, there will be discounts available to those with Seaway's frequent-shopper card, she said.

Dan's Foods, Salt Lake City, had "spectacular" deli sales during the past holiday season and hopes that response will carry over into Super Bowl promotions, said Carl Rubadue, deli and seafood buyer.

"Compared with last year, we would expect this Super Bowl to be at least the same if not better. Our deli sales have been growing so consistently we fully expect to have better results this year," Rubadue said.

Last year Dan's offered a three-foot submarine sandwich, but last-minute orders were hard to fill because it was necessary to special order the bread, Rubadue said. This year, he's featuring one-foot subs as well as party trays.

The full selection of Dan's party trays will be featured with a discount coupon in its weekly ad and in-store. The value of the coupon had not been definitely decided at presstime, but a $5 discount was being considered, Rubadue said.

Phillip Grasso, vice president of deli and food-service operations for 178-unit Ingles Markets, Black Mountain, N.C., said, "We will have a special Super Bowl party platter that will feed up to about 18 people. It will contain roast beef, ham, turkey, Swiss or American cheese, two pounds of potato salad, and will retail for $19.95. It will be premade and displayed in the grab-and-go section."

A new deli item for Super Bowl promotion is a four-pound tub of deli salad, such as potato, cole slaw or macaroni salad, he said.

"It is like a picnic pack. We just take it out of the case and put it on display. It does not have to be repackaged. Traditionally, these salads arrive in giant cartons, maybe eight to 10 pounds, and we have to repackage them in smaller sizes. Anytime you don't have to open the original container and repackage the salad, you have eliminated an opportunity to introduce bacteria and are maximizing quality and shelf life for your customers," Grasso said.

Other Super Bowl specials in the deli department at Ingles will be three-foot submarine sandwiches, a party platter of finger sandwiches, an eight-piece bucket of fried chicken and a deli pizza, he said.

"We think Super Bowl is a big opportunity every year. If you are ready for it, it will drive a lot of business. We would expect Super Bowl to be better this year than last year," Grasso said.

Driving the growth of deli for Super Bowl and other occasions is what Grasso termed "the convenience quotient."

"More people are looking for good food fast out of the deli. Consumers have more disposable income. Time is money. If the customer knows she can come in to our store and buy a good quality product, she will.

Quillins, La Crosse, Wis., learned from last year's Super Bowl deli promotion that the most important thing is to "go after business more aggressively," said Nancy Rand, deli director.

"Last year we offered a mini hot dog tray but it did not do that well for us. We are thinking big this year. We will feature a big sandwich, a five-foot submarine, and big party packs with all of our signature items," she said. "The size creates excitement. Anytime you do something big it creates excitement and you sell more," Rand said.

Handouts distributed in the deli for Thanksgiving and Christmas were so effective in describing the items available and attracting customers' attention that they will be used again during the week of Super Bowl, she said.