Retailers large and small look forward to a happy Halloween season this year thanks to more candy sales and ample folks celebrating this year with customs and parties, according to multiple surveys by retail trade groups.
Wal-Mart Global Insights leader Matt Kistler recently said earlier displays of Halloween candy in its stores created an unexpected social media buzz and early sales were strong.
“It makes you wonder if candy displays will go up earlier for Christmas and Valentine’s Day because of the success seen this Halloween,” Kistler said.
It turns out that Halloween is on the minds of consumers this year who are willing to dole out $125 per household on candy, costumes, decorations and other related holiday items, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers. The trade group anticipates 74% of U.S. households plan to spend money on Halloween-related items. The total benefit for retailers is expected to be $11.3 billion. Some 80% of households will spend the same as last year and 20% said they plan to increase spending, ICSC notes.
“Halloween has continued to grow in importance over the past several years and consumer demand has driven retailers to place greater emphasis on the holiday,” said Jesse Tron, spokesperson for ICSC. “The fact that consumers are willing to spend more on discretionary purchases is a positive sign for the upcoming holiday shopping season.”
While consumers are willing to spend for the holiday, Tron said they are still looking for sales and good prices which is why discount retailers are expected to get 34% of the overall sales. Supermarkets should garner about 18% of the sales, with drug store chains and wholesale clubs picking up 11% and 9%, respectively.
The National Retail Federation expects total spending at $7.4 billion, about one-third of which is spent on candy. About 75% of U.S. households plan to hand out candy to trick-or-treaters this year. Research indicates Baby Boomer households are the most likely to reward visitors on Halloween night. Some 84% of boomer households plan to distribute candy.
The most popular candy treat – chocolate – is favored by 72% of Americans. Candy corn, a holiday icon, is favored by just 12%. The National Retail Federation estimates that spending on children’s costumes will total $1.1 billion, while adults will spend $1.4 billion on costumes for themselves and another $350 million on costumes for their pets.
Disney’s Frozen and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle characters will take to the streets this Halloween. The National Retail Federation’s survey found that 2.6 million children plan to dress up as one of Disney’s Frozen characters, while about 1.8 million children will dress as one of the re-imagined classic characters from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Princess (3.4 million), animal (3 million) and Spider-Man (2.6 million) will be other popular choices for children.
“Children and adults love to celebrate this fall holiday in all sorts of ways, and it’s clear dressing in costume will be a top priority for millions of people this year,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “Given the popular holiday falls on a Friday this year, retailers can expect increased web and in-store traffic in the weekdays leading up to the big night, meaning consumers will need to keep their eye on specific must-have items as they are likely to go fast.”
The survey also found 75 million adults will dress in costume, and most will stick to traditional options, including a witch (4.8 million), animal (2.6 million), Batman character (2 million) and pirate (1.8 million).
Findings revealed that among the 14.3% of celebrants planning to outfit their pets, 10.8% will dress their furry friends as a pumpkin, the top costume again this year. Fido and fluffy will also be found disguised as hot dogs, devils, bumble bees and cats.
“Halloween continues to be a celebration for all ages and this year will be no exception. Last year with Halloween falling on a Thursday, sales grew nearly 10% – with this year’s observance on Friday, we anticipate even higher growth,” said Ken Alterman, president and CEO of Savers Thrift Stores.
Savers expects the “selfie” to be bigger than ever this year as 60% of social media users who dress up report their social networks will impact their costume choices. Social media has continued to spark costume wearers’ creativity – if a photo is likely to be posted to their social channels, 35% would be more inclined to create a one-of-a-kind costume. Almost half plan to get inspiration from their newsfeed, while 34% want to wear something different every year to avoid posting similar photos.
Alterman also notes that Hollywood celebrities being watched this holiday include Lady Gaga and Ellen Degeneres as they are each expected to take home the top prizes for costume creativity.
He said there is a certain amount of hype around the holiday and for good reason as 82% of those who dress up plan well in advance. On average consumers plan two and a half months ahead of Halloween.
It’s no surprise that the Walking Dead television series is the show inspiring the most costumes for the fourth year in a row. Alterman said regal furs, swords and wigs from the Game of Thrones cast also are a favorite this year.
He said 53% of Americans plan to decorate their homes and neighborhoods for Halloween, second only to Christmas.
NRF said researching and planning ahead online before buying in-store continues to be an integral part of the shopping experience this fall, with 41% of households planning to participate in ‘webrooming’ – researching online before purchasing Halloween-related items in physical stores.