By Casey Kurlander
A survey by the National Retail Federation (NRF) shows that Halloween is expected to be big this year- an $8 billion holiday to be exact. According to the survey, seven in 10 Americans plan to celebrate Halloween this year, the most in the survey’s 10-year history. Total spending on the holiday is expected to reach $8 billion, with each person spending about $80 on costumes, decoration and sweet treats.
Part of the appeal of Halloween is that it is the first holiday of the fall. Some consider it the kick-off to the holiday season, and it gets people excited and puts them in the spirit for the months that follow. Another reason that Halloween is popular with consumers is that it’s a relatively inexpensive holiday to partake in. When compared to Christmas, Hanukkah, Valentine’s Day and even New Year’s, which often involve gifts and elaborate meals, Halloween is not that expensive.
This year, more people plan to dress up, throw or attend a party and hand out candy to trick-or-treaters. Of the consumers spending this Halloween, their biggest expense is costumes. The average person is expected to shell out $43.60 on costumes, up from $40.81 a year ago. They will spend $32.35 on decorations, up from $28.54 and $24.25 on candy, up from $22.05 last year.
The steady growth in Halloween spending could prove to be an excellent opportunity for both retailers and marketers if they promote it more heavily, yet the holiday is overlooked by many. This is largely due to the fact that Halloween falls in between back-to-school and Christmas, two of the largest retail campaigns of the year. Both of these events attract much more spending than Halloween, and during the months of September and October (when most Halloween purchases are made), retailers are already mainly focusing on Christmas. Many retailers officially kick off holiday campaigns at the end of October or early November, but holiday merchandise can be found in stores as early as September. My local Costco in Delray Beach has had their holiday aisle set up for at least two weeks now.
“People are standing in line with a pumpkin looking at Christmas ornaments,” said Mike Gatti, a senior VP at the NRF. “Everyone complains about Christmas creep but people are in there buying it.”
Mainstream retailers that are caught trying to balance both Halloween and Christmas may be missing the opportunity that lies in the growth in Halloween spending. They look at it as just a smaller spending holiday that is squeezed between back-to-school and Christmas and do not consider it a significant part of the advertising and promotions calendar. Those who do focus on heavily promoting Halloween are often costume retailers and those who set up pop-up shops, but they are usually not the ones who advertise like crazy.
Mr. Gatti explains, “Everyone from home centers to pet stores is taking advantage of the growth in Halloween. So it could be a missed opportunity [to include it as part of] the ad calendar.”
With more consumers than ever planning to celebrate Halloween this year, it would be wise for retailers and marketers to take advantage of the opportunity. Those who promote the holiday with ads will likely catch the attention of the 70% of consumers who are planning to spend their hard-earned dollars on products that help them get into the Halloween spirit.