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Big game fuels fever for new televisions [Billings Gazette, Mont. :: ]
[February 02, 2014]

Big game fuels fever for new televisions [Billings Gazette, Mont. :: ]

(Billings Gazette (MT) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Feb. 02--Chips? Check. Dip, beer, buffalo wings, pizza, nachos with cheese and chocolate brownies? Check.

You're all set to party with your Billings friends, some of the 62 million Americans expected to watch the 2014 Super Bowl between the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos.

Unless you're lucky or rich enough to attend the game, you can't watch without a TV, so retailers look for higher sales around game day.

"Our goal is to get a double-digit increase," said Guillaume Noyers of Seattle, regional sales director for Vann's Electronics, now owned by HK Global, a chain of duty-free electronics stores.

The Black Friday sales spree at Thanksgiving is tops for TV sales, followed by the week before Christmas. Super Bowl is in third place, said Mike Marr, who has been selling TVs at Vann's Electronics and Appliances since it opened its Billings store in 1998.

Even though customers generally spend most of their disposable cash over the holidays, some buy new or larger TVs just for the Super Bowl, which accounts for up to 35 percent of Vann's yearly TV sales in Billings, he said.

"Super Bowl is not only football. Some people just tune in for the commercials and halftime is the third big part of the day," Marr said.

Televisions in Billings are also sold at Best Buy, Costco, Sears, Target, ShopKo, Walmart and Kmart.

The game also brings a spike in TV sales at Kmart and Sears, said Billings Kmart store manager Kevin Vincelette, although he didn't have hard numbers.

The affiliated retail chains also see more sales and are offering a "lease-and-go" deal where people with a source of income, a checking account, credit card and a down payment can lease the TV and take it home that day.

"They can pay for it with a five-month payment program," Vincelette said. "That's been a good program for the people who can't afford the upfront money." The most popular sellers at Kmart range from 32-inch to the 65-inch TVs because the prices have come down, he said.

But choosing a television is no simple task.

Among all the manufacturers, the sizes and models, customers have some 60 to 80 TVs to choose from, including the standard formats of plasma, LEDs and LCDs, Marr said.

After food, the most sought after Super Bowl prize is control of the TV remote.

But the latest smart television doesn't even need a remote.

For $30,000 to $40,000, you can buy the very latest 4K smart TV that recognizes voice commands, although other voice command TVs sell for considerably less.

"You can sit down and say, 'Raise the volume,' " Marr said.

Vann's doesn't carry any of these, but last week, it had an 84-inch 4K television in stock.

"That is four-times sharper than a Blu-ray movie. It's just like being there," Marr said. "The price tag was $17,000 and it sold last week." ^pBut TV shows aren't being broadcast yet in the 4K format, and there are no disc players available.^p However, the warp speed changes in technology should fill in those gaps and bring the costs down, Marr said.

"Give it a year and a half, this 4K is incredible and the price will come down," he said.

___ (c)2014 the Billings Gazette (Billings, Mont.) Visit the Billings Gazette (Billings, Mont.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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