Christmas Prospects Called Spooky, Halloween’s Cheery

Discussion
Oct 02, 2008

By George Anderson

As an AdAge.com article points out, this year is bringing something of a reversal for the Halloween and Christmas selling seasons as the former has retailers feeling holiday cheer while the latter has merchants more than a little spooked.

According to the National Retail Federation, sales for Halloween are expected to be up around 14 percent this year to $5.77 billion while the Christmas numbers are projected to be up 2.2 percent.

Roughly two-thirds of consumers are planning to celebrate Halloween up from 59 percent last year. The average expenditure is expected to jump to $66.54 compared to last year’s $64.82. Consumers in the 18 to 24-year-old group are expected to be the biggest spenders with purchases of $86.59 per person.

“In general, there’s a bit of a backlog, when someone has spent the last nine to 10 months only buying necessities, only focusing on items they can get at great prices,” Ellen Davis, vice president at NRF, told Ad Age. “It really has to do more with the mind-set of the shopper. In a lot of ways Halloween and Christmas are really different. We’re talking $40 or $50 vs. $800 or $900. It’s a lot easier to justify.”

“After months of bleak economic news, consumers are looking for a reason to let loose,” said Phil Rist, vice president-strategy for BIGresearch, which conducted the survey for NRF. “With Halloween on a Friday this year, consumers may plan to celebrate all weekend long.”

Discussion Questions: Are you at all surprised by the size of the expected jump in Halloween sales this year? Do cheery prospects mean retailers can approach Halloween any differently than in the past?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

Join the Discussion!

10 Comments on "Christmas Prospects Called Spooky, Halloween’s Cheery"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
13 years 7 months ago

The difference between Halloween sales projections and possible hallucinations is yet to be seen…and the “winner” may even create a RetailWire topic for November. Retailers are going all out with displays and lots of merchandise for Halloween selling. That’s excellent! They are prepared and positive. But will the forthcoming 3-day Halloween weekend really be the creative escape outlet that is being projected? I hope so but my Missouri instincts whisper “Show Me.”

John Gaffney
Guest
John Gaffney
13 years 7 months ago

Halloween is a low-ticket holiday. I don’t think it’s a good indicator of the economy or retailing. If Halloween depended on iPods, video games, big TVs, and jewelry, it would be down 15 percent over last year.

Tim Henderson
Guest
Tim Henderson
13 years 7 months ago
This doesn’t surprise me–even though comparing the two holiday shopping behaviors is a bit like apples and oranges. Still, it’s the consumer’s emotions behind the two holidays, mixed with the 2008 economy, that are telling. Halloween is a celebration of fun, whether you’re a kid or adult. It makes perfect sense that consumers who have been anxious about the economy all year view the holiday as a chance to let loose and forget real-world problems for a few hours. We’re likely to see similar behavior for New Year’s Eve when consumers can wave bye-bye to a horrible year. Christmas, however, is about sharing of love and thanksgiving–intangible emotions that are often made tangible via gifts. That’s a problem for consumers who are scared to open their wallets. As for how merchants approach Halloween, there’s a few things retailers can do, but not a lot given the timeframe. Smart retailers, should begin thinking of how to leverage New Year’s Eve/Day celebrations and start planning for Halloween 2009 because it’s likely consumers will still be haunted by… Read more »
Mel Kleiman
Guest
13 years 7 months ago

I have not thought much about Halloween sales but I can see good reason for them to be up.

1.Consumers are looking for something to relieve a little bit of the pressure they are now feeling and what a better way then Halloween? Scary times, Scary holiday.

2. You do not have to spend a lot of money to enjoy the holiday.

3. It’s a chance to be creative.

Liz Crawford
Guest
13 years 7 months ago

I am not too surprised. Sales of alcohol are up too. I bet New Year’s will be a heck of a bash this year. Consumers are inundated with bad news and general gloom. What’s a person to do? Party!

Halloween and New Year’s aren’t laden with the burden of ritual the way that Christmas is…these holidays are geared for fun. Fun that is shared with neighbors, family and friends. And they aren’t religious (in most places). This is a bit of escapism. Buy stock in party hats.

Gene Detroyer
Guest
13 years 7 months ago

There are no surprises here. Ellen Davis is on target that people are ready to find something to let loose on. And the fact that Halloween is on a Friday really helps. (Look for the same phenomenon when Halloween falls on a Saturday and Sunday.)

The cost level also has a significant impact. It will cost less than $100 to have a merry Halloween. Consumers will be looking to cut $100s from their Christmas budget to have a happy Christmas.

Carol Spieckerman
Guest
Carol Spieckerman
13 years 7 months ago

Based on conversations I’ve had with seasonal buyers at top retailers, I’m not surprised at all. They tell me that Halloween has been trending up for the last couple of years and with orange trashbags filled with leaves serving as adequate yard “decoration,” it is a low cost of entry for sure. Buyers also tell me that buying for Halloween is tricky due to religious sensitivity…every year, they get complaints about “Satanic” decorations, costumes, etc. Oh, and speaking of tricky; it seems as though brands and licensing companies have taken to raiding birthday and Halloween parties that dare to use likenesses of their characters in costume-creation. Such shenanigans deprives them of revenue that might otherwise be realized from their traveling productions, movies and authorized products. Are we having fun yet?

Ted Hurlbut
Guest
Ted Hurlbut
13 years 7 months ago

Halloween generally has been pretty underdeveloped as a seasonal opportunity. Sell-throughs have traditionally been weak, leading to tough markdowns or packaways. Clearly, it’s getting a big play this year, so we’ll see if that pattern changes. Christmas hit a wall about four years ago and since then, retailers have been much more cautious. I don’t think that this years’ Halloween push necessarily will translate into renewed opportunities for Christmas goods.

Don Delzell
Guest
Don Delzell
13 years 7 months ago
Why are we taking these projections as “fact”? Honestly…they are good arguments, but fueled by an almost desperate need to generate some sort of positive retail story. I’m skeptical. The recent financial system lurches one direction and then the other are draining the impact a bailout will have on consumer confidence…assuming the House passes the bill at all. Further, we have an election only days after Halloween. That’s not good. An election where there’s a great deal of concern, anxiety and hope. I just don’t see it. Opening the wallet to “party” because there’s all this pent up need? With what money? I’m talking to middle income couples and there is no money. None. So the concept that Halloween is a lower ticket holiday and easier to celebrate ignores how very tight the wallets are for most consumers. One last point: very little data, but many people I know are continuing to delay or eliminate unnecessary buying so that there will be a Christmas of SOME kind…any kind, even if it’s less than last year.… Read more »
Mark Lilien
Guest
13 years 7 months ago

Halloween’s on a Friday this year. Only Saturday would be better. What’s hurting Halloween: too much competition (a familiar theme song in retailing.) The drug store Halloween expansion and the temporary pop-up Halloween stores all hurt the party stores and the mass merchants.

Christmas margins are getting killed because the customers are so well-trained to wait for post-holiday sales promotions. Decades ago, folks had to buy before December 25th, because (1) there were no gift cards and (2) the stores ran out of stock. Shoppers aren’t dumb: a gift card for $100 is worth $165 on December 26th. And the stores are perfectly well-stocked on December 26th.

wpDiscuz

Take Our Instant Poll

Will Halloween be more or less competitive for retailers this year versus past years?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...