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Retailers Look to be Goblin Up Halloween Shoppers’ Cash

Halloween Shopping.png
It’s not just witchful thinking: here’s to a more hopeful, but still haunting Halloween.

Photo Credit: Syda Productions/ Adobe Stock 

You’ve probably already seen it: scary merchandise magically appearing the minute the kids are back in school. Retail follows its own timeline – one shopping season ends and another begins, often months before the actual holiday appears on the calendar. Back-to-school shopping has ended, which means all things Halloween line the shelves (no doubt alongside a plethora of other holiday items).

The pandemic continues to reshape everything – especially everything retail. And while Halloween doesn’t pack the punch of the traditional holiday shopping season, it still has a history of providing a big retail boost, at least pre-pandemic. Because of the virus, Americans’ spending on Halloween dropped to an estimated $8 billion in 2020 from $8.8 billion in 2019, according to the National Retail Federation. That’s a decline from the record $9.1 billion spent in 2017.

What will Halloween 2021 look like? Could trick-or-treating return to pre-2020 levels? Will Halloween parties recommence? Or will people continue to hunker down, while possibly upping their outdoor decorating game? There is reason to believe this year could be much improved.

According to Walmart, more than half of customers surveyed said they are likely to celebrate Halloween in 2021 and customers are significantly more likely to do traditional trick-or-treating this year than last. A Halloween report from Inmar Intelligence predicts 60% more trick-or-treaters in 2021 vs. 2020 – which means more shoppers searching for home décor, party supplies, candy and costumes. And the hunt for the spooky supplies is well under way. Trendanalytics says internet searches for Halloween began climbing as early as April when the term Halloween began experiencing extremely high weekly search volume – about 328,500 per week on average. Searches for the term typically peak in the last week of October, as the term garnered an average of 30.5 million searches in the last week of October 2020. The National Confectioners Association has hopes for a sweet return to a more normal Halloween and their most recent survey buoys up those hopes. It found that 82% of people – and 93% of young parents – plan to celebrate Halloween this year. Adding to that optimism, 82% of people are confident they will find safe and creative ways to celebrate the Halloween season. 

Creepy and cute costumes

If trick-or-treating is indeed coming back, that means new costumes are in order. According to Trendanalytics, this Halloween, kids are expected to dress up in costumes that celebrate the everyday heroes of lockdown, like detectives and mail carriers. After more than a year binge-watching cartoons and action movies, superheroes and cartoon costumes are bound to make a strong showing as well. Whether you’re just looking for costumes or you also want some delightfully disturbing décor, there’s plenty of shopping options. Go-to retailers like Target and Walmart already have shelves stocked with goodies, decorations and costumes for kids, adults and even pets.

Pop-up purveyors of Halloween goods, Party City and Spirit Halloween are both positive about the season. In early August, Party City announced it would be opening 80 to 100 Halloween City pop-ups for the upcoming season. Although that’s significantly fewer stores than the company opened pre-pandemic, it’s an optimistic quadruple the number that opened in 2020.

Spirit Halloween, the nation’s largest specialty Halloween retailer, kicked off the spooky season in July with a grand opening party at their flagship location in Egg Harbor Township. Steven Silverstein, chief executive officer, Spirit Halloween, said at the event, “While 2020 was a challenging year, our fans and enthusiasts everywhere made sure Halloween happened. Now we’re back and bringing Halloween to life like never before.”

You’ve probably already seen it. Scary merchandise magically appearing the minute the kids are back in school. Retail follows its own timeline – one shopping season ends and another begins, often months before the actual holiday appears on the calendar. Back-to-school shopping has ended, which means all things Halloween line the shelves (no doubt alongside a plethora of other holiday items). The pandemic continues to reshape everything – especially everything retail. And while Halloween doesn’t pack the punch of the traditional holiday shopping season, it still has a history of providing a big retail boost, at least pre-pandemic. Because of the virus, Americans’ spending on Halloween dropped to an estimated $8 billion in 2020 from $8.8 billion in 2019, according to the National Retail Federation. That’s a decline from the record $9.1 billion spent in 2017. What will Halloween 2021 look like? Could trick-or-treating return to pre-2020 levels? Will Halloween parties recommence? Or will people continue to hunker down, while possibly upping their outdoor decorating game? There is reason to believe this year could be much improved. According to Walmart, more than half of customers surveyed said they are likely to celebrate Halloween in 2021 and customers are significantly more likely to do traditional trick-or-treating this year than last. A Halloween report from Inmar Intelligence predicts 60% more trick-or-treaters in 2021 vs. 2020 – which means more shoppers searching for home décor, party supplies, candy and costumes. And the hunt for the spooky supplies is well under way. Trendanalytics says internet searches for Halloween began climbing as early as April when the term Halloween began experiencing extremely high weekly search volume – about 328,500 per week on average. Searches for the term typically peak in the last week of October, as the term garnered an average of 30.5 million searches in the last week of October 2020. The National Confectioners Association has hopes for a sweet return to a more normal Halloween and their most recent survey buoys up those hopes. It found that 82% of people – and 93% of young parents – plan to celebrate Halloween this year. Adding to that optimism, 82% of people are confident they will find safe and creative ways to celebrate the Halloween season.

Sweet Treats

The treacly truth is that Halloween and candy go together like salt and pepper. If you had lots of ghosts, gremlins and goblins greedily seeking goodies in the years prior to the pandemic, it might be a good idea to stock up on candy and treats to give out on Halloween. The NCA’s study found 83% of parents believe that chocolate and candy are an important and fun part of celebrations like Halloween. The study also found that 80% of Americans plan to trick or treat in 2021. And even if you don’t expect many trick-or-treaters to haunt your doorstep, you’ll probably want to grab some sweets anyway: 79% of Americans say they plan to fill a Halloween candy bowl this season. If you’d like to land on the trick rather than treat side, hand out Skittles Shriekers, the limited-edition candy with shockingly sour candy hidden inside.

Get it While you Can

Demand is a strong indicator of consumer interest, and some stores are already seeing a run on Halloween items. Hot Topic launched a collection of Mickey Mouse-themed Halloween gear in August, including a Candy Corn Cardigan that sold out almost immediately and is back-ordered until early 2022.

According to CNBC, Home Depot said in mid-August that it had quickly sold out of an early release of Halloween products. The home improvement retailer recently offered shoppers a sneak peek at its Halloween products online and sold through everything “almost immediately.” “That’s a very strong indication that people are still going to engage in decorating,” management told analysts. Last year, Home Depot said it had its most successful Halloween event ever, when it quickly sold through stock of a 12-foot skeleton. Its full assortment will go on sale in the coming weeks, consistent with its typical schedule, Home Depot said.

 

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