Halloween Scares Up Some Sales

Discussion
Sep 26, 2007

By Tom Ryan

According to a survey from the NRF, the average person plans to spend $64.82 on Halloween this year, up nearly 10 percent from the $59.06 they spent a year ago,

Total Halloween spending this year, including candy, costumes and decorations, is expected to reach $5.07 billion.

The average person will spend $23.33 on Halloween costumes (including children’s and pet’s costumes), though young adults will spend far more. According to the survey conducted by BIGresearch, 18-24 year-olds plan to spend $34.06 on costumes, nearly twice as much as they plan to spend on candy ($19.65). Overall, average spending will rise in all categories, including candy ($19.84), decorations ($17.73) and greeting cards ($3.92).

“Halloween should give retailers a nice boost in sales as they open the crucial fourth quarter,” said Tracy Mullin, President and CEO of NRF. “This is the time of year that retailers are at their best, stocking the shelves with new and innovative product to help consumers celebrate in style.”

The most popular activity on Halloween this year will be handing out candy,
with nearly three-fourths (72.9 percent) of consumers planning to stay home
to hand out treats. Other popular activities will include pumpkin carving (43.3
percent), decorating a home and/or yard (47.8 percent), and throwing or attending
a Halloween party (28.3 percent).

The NRF 2007 Halloween Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey was designed
to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends related to the Halloween season.
The survey polled 8,877 consumers from September 4-11.

The expected gains come as more retailers and suppliers continue to more aggressively marketing the holiday earlier in the season.

“We’ve found our customers begin thinking about Halloween shortly after Labor Day,” said Karen Burk, a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart Stores, which had its stores set for Halloween by the weekend after Labor Day.

On the supplier side, Halloween-inspired commercials have already come out from Hallmark Cards, Lenox, Mars, the Popcorn Factory and Advil analgesic, according to the Times. And on the media side, many magazines have moved up editorial coverage around Halloween themes to their October issues (which arrive in September) to meet reader demand.

“If the choice is between being a little late with holiday coverage and being a little early, we’d rather be early,” said Gayle Butler, editor in chief at Better Homes and Gardens.

Discussion Questions: What do you think of the growing retail sales opportunities around Halloween? Are some retailers overdoing it? How can retailers best capitalize on such opportunities while minimizing markdown risks?

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5 Comments on "Halloween Scares Up Some Sales"


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Raymond D. Jones
Guest
Raymond D. Jones
14 years 8 months ago

Halloween continues to be a growth opportunity for many retailers.

The time between “Back to School” and Thanksgiving represents a void in many retail merchandising schedules. Halloween is a fun and colorful holiday with products like candy like are easily merchandised by many types of retailers.

Also, in our work for the candy industry, we are abreast of the consumer trends. Halloween, which was once a kids holiday, has become more of a family and neighborhood event, lending itself to broader merchandising opportunities.

Mark Lilien
Guest
14 years 8 months ago

Although Halloween sales have risen nicely these past few years, the selling square footage of outlets with Halloween merchandise may be rising sharply, too. Halloween displays in drug stores seem to be getting larger and larger, and there are more “pop-up” temporary Halloween stores in otherwise empty storefronts. Luckily for Halloween retailers, the growth in new party store locations has tailed off considerably. Now that Party America, Factory Card Outlet, and Party City are all controlled by the same ownership, the growth in new party store locations, and any increased competition, is likely to remain muted. The rollup strategy in the party store category and the department store category (Macy’s) might be worthwhile in several other retail categories, like electronics.

Carol Spieckerman
Guest
Carol Spieckerman
14 years 8 months ago

I had a fascinating conversation about Halloween the other day with a high-volume seasonal buyer. For all of the opportunities that Halloween presents, the pitfalls are plentiful. Keeping things scary without getting sacrilegious, targeting edgier products to the appropriate markets, knowing when enough is enough in terms of inventory, flammability, injury risk…whew! Makes most other categories seem like a walk in the park by comparison. P.S. Skeletons are all the rage.

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
14 years 8 months ago

Supposedly this annual observance (it’s not really a holiday) is the second-most popular party date of the year, behind only New Year’s Eve. To me, that implies heavier adult participation than little kids trick-or-treating their way through neighborhoods. Perhaps that’s the golden key for retailers. A brief, semi-related, rather interesting story: Some years ago my wife was shopping near the end of October and encountered a mother accompanied by two costumed, rambunctious kids. The mother was oblivious to her kids’ excited perambulations through the store until my wife remarked, “What a cute Satan costume.” That’s when the mother literally screamed, “It’s a devil costume!” Apparently my wife discovered what was required to get the mother’s attention.

Eric Togneri
Guest
Eric Togneri
14 years 8 months ago

What I find interesting is the extension of Halloween marketing to seemingly unrelated categories and the growth opportunities this represents. For instance, in a walk down your local CVS seasonal aisle you will encounter ChapStick. Not some special Halloween ChapStick, but regular ChapStick merchandised in a Halloween graphic laced corrugate display. So does CVS think that ChapStick is a giveaway to wealthy trick or treaters at $1.69 per stick? Probably not. My guess would be that this is more an attempt to capitalize on the impulsiveness of a ChapStick purchase. Which begs the question, what impulse items are next to help bolster Halloween sales? Halloween eye glass repair kits perhaps?

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