Why niche retailers should be gearing up for Halloween

Industry Insight

Although many retailers may not think of Halloween as being a peak shopping holiday, it has increasingly become a significant profit generator. This is due in large part to Millennials retaining a strong love for the holiday and continuing to celebrate long after their trick-or-treating days have ended. Whether they are throwing parties, taking their own children out or celebrating in some other way, they are spending a lot of money on Halloween, and merchants may want to capitalize on this trend.

The National Retail Federation’s Halloween Headquarters makes it apparent how much of a driving force Millennials have become for the holiday. For example, approximately seven in 10 say they will dress in costume, while nearly half will either throw or attend a party. Other popular activities include decorating their homes or yard to fit the theme of the holiday, while even one-fifth will purchase costumes for their pets.

Moreover, the influx of Halloween spending has proven to be consistent. Whereas many people were spending less money during the economic recession, Halloween expenditures remained consistent through the economic downturn and have increased sharply since then. Compared to 2006, Americans collectively spent $2 billion more on Halloween last year, with more than $7 billion dumped into decorations, costumes, candy and other Halloween merchandise.

Whereas many people were spending less money during the economic recession, Halloween expenditures remained consistent through the economic downturn and have increased sharply since then.

According to Forbes contributor Larissa Faw, while Halloween was traditionally associated with children, that notion has changed significantly over the years. Speaking with Denise Delahorne of DDB Worldwide, Forbes noted that as many as 13 percent of Millennial Americans say Halloween is their favorite holiday, and as a result, there are more parties and other festivities for adults as well. In fact, many workplaces are now participating in the festivities by allowing employees to dress up, and decorate their offices.

“There are several reasons [for its adult popularity],” Delahorne told the news source. “There’s no stress to it. You don’t have to travel or deal with relatives. There’s not the holiday pressure to find a date if you are single. You can wear whatever you want and not be judged. There’s the fantasy, role-play element. If you think about it, it’s surprising that 90 percent of people don’t feel it’s their favorite holiday.”

This trend can only be good for retailers. It means that more people are celebrating, which greatly extends the target audience for Halloween-related products and merchandise. In years past, Halloween was perhaps only a small focus of retailers but now it is demanding more attention as more people get involved with festivities.

Gearing up to serve Halloween shoppers

Here are a few things retailers should keep in mind when preparing for Halloween shoppers:

  • Remember Millennials. Merchants should be looking to increase their inventory offerings to better serve older audiences. That may mean stocking adult-sized costumes or decorations that would be suited for the workplace or parties for older people instead of simply targeting children.
  • Halloween is often a last-minute event. Although there are some people who plan their costumes for weeks in advance, many are procrastinators who look to make their Halloween purchases much sooner to the holiday. Whether they are purchasing decorations, costumes or anything else, retailers should look to make buying as easy as possible. This could even include offering in-store pickup of online purchases so people can buy costumes and just pick them up on the way to parties.
  • Make sure your eCommerce site is up to snuff. Last-minute shopping often leaves in-store stocks limited and large crowds picking through the rest. Expect some percentage of Halloween shoppers to head online in an effort to beat the crowds and to gain access to a broader variety of costumes and other merchandise.