The Commercialization of Halloween

The National Retail Federation says that Halloween spending will be down from 2012, but it will still represent $6.9 billion in consumer money for the year. By now, retailers have already begun aggressively marketing the idea of Halloween and Thanksgiving. Right around the corner will be the hint of Christmas trees and garland.

Spending peaked in 2012 after dipping to less than $5 billion for the first time since 2005. That means that the industry jumped $3 billion in just three years. That’s a lot of costumes, but is that really where the money is going?

Well, as expected, yes the bulk of the spending will go to Halloween costumes. That’s about $2.5 billion in thirty to sixty days’ time. Candy, a year-round business, is expected to take a $2 billion slice of the pie while decorations trail just behind them. Halloween also generates a small market for greeting cards, large enough to rival Christmas but small in comparison to the costume business.

What’s intriguing about costume spending is that over the years, pets have become a sizable chunk of that market. Homemade costumes are making a comeback as well, which might account for some of the spending dip. Costume data also suggests that people are reaching out to their friends and social networks to see what the best costumes are to wear. Almost 10% of respondents admitted they have checked Pinterest, which is close to the 14% who check Facebook for ideas. Twitter lags behind at 5%, but the network is smaller and much less personal.

But not everyone will be enjoying Halloween this year. While online and retail stores will be expected to rake in the bulk of profits during the holiday season, consumer spending by individual is down almost $5 from last year. That accounts for a $3 billion dip.

Consumers say that higher payroll taxes and an uncertain job market have kept spending tight. While there are some consumers opting out, overall Halloween is expected to be a good season this year for those in the business. After all, Halloween ranks up there with New Year’s and Mardi Gras as far as being one of the biggest parties of the year.

How can you get in on the action?

·  Pick a theme: run a “zombie sale” instead of a fire sale and clear out some of your stock before the end of the year. Have a designer build you an awesome landing page with zombies like Sears did

·  Giveaway something themed: a box set of monster movies or old-school slasher flicks might be a fun give away for the season to encourage customers to opt into your email list. It creates a sales funnel long-term and gives people a reason to opt in to your messaging.

·  Plan an event: if you can offer an extra percentage off to customers who submit pictures of themselves or show up to your store in costume, go for it. Even an extra ten percent off might get the more festive in your audience to shop with you.

·  Hire personnel now for the holiday season. Anticipate the rush. You will sell more if you have more sellers.

·  Window dressing for the season should be fun and festive. Use your shop’s window, or your website’s landing page, to make a powerful statement about the season.

The season is also a good time to promote gift cards, which can bring you even more sales down the road. Not every business can cut loose during the holidays, it’s hard to imagine a plumber in a costume besides Super Mario, but you can get in the mood with holiday deals.

This is a guest post.

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About Shawn Hartley

Creative technologist by day. Bowling instructor at night. VP at Corporate 3 Design in Omaha. Proud father and husband.