Retail Trend Watchers See Monstrous Halloween Season Ahead

National Retail Federation Survey Points to a Record $8.4 Billion in Sales
Halloween, according to the annual survey of the National Retail Federation, holds lots of treats for retailers this year. Now the second highest-grossing retail holiday – behind Christmas – the 2016 spooky season will see 171 million consumers spending an individual average of $82.93 on Halloween merchandise (up from $74.34 last year) for an unprecedented total of $8.4 billion in sales. Good news, since Halloween is seen by many as the bellwether to the big holiday season just around the corner.

Multiple Categories Attract Shoppers’ Halloween Dollars
The Halloween shopping season is lengthy, stretching from late July through mid-October, and celebrants use that time to look for special promotions on a wide range of items: home decorations (indoor and outdoor), party goods and refreshments, costumes and accessories, greeting cards and, of course, candy. This year, a projected total of $3.1 billion will go to costumes, $2.4 billion to decorations, $2.5 billion to candy (Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups was 2015’s top seller) and $390 million to cards.

Costumes for Everyone from Boomers to Babies to the Family Dog
The NRF survey reports that 67 percent of consumers plan to don costumes during the Halloween season. Those from 18-34 will likely choose a Batman character for their revels, while those in the older demographic intend to stay with the classic witch or pirate. For costume and make-up inspiration, celebrants across the demographic spectrum say they will turn to social media – especially Pinterest.

In the kids’ category, the Princess has been dethroned after an 11-year reign by the many popular Super Heroes. Onesies, pajamas and buntings in a variety of themes are available for infants. And it appears that the retail trend of costumes for pets will continue. The top choice for pups continues to be a pumpkin or, appropriately, a hot dog.

Discount Stores Are the Top Destination, Pop-Ups Are Declining in Some Areas
As a leading retail real estate company, Levin always has an eye on location. Halloween shopping, according the NRF survey, runs counter to the overall trend toward online.

Online, in fact, is the least frequent source for Halloween purchases, well behind the major bricks-and-mortar categories. Discount stores lead the list at 47 percent, followed by Halloween costume/party stores (36 percent), grocery stores/supermarkets (26 percent) and department stores (23 percent). Online is projected to account for 22 percent of Halloween purchases.

In some areas of the country, like Northern New Jersey, pop-up Halloween shops occupying vacant space in strip malls and freestanding stores, seem to be on the wane. Observers credit this trend to the improving economy, which has led to fewer retail vacancies and more demand for existing space. With the number of potential tenants surging, retail leasing companies are reluctant to enter into short-term seasonal leases.

What’s Behind the Growing Popularity of Halloween?
Just a few decades ago, Halloween was a holiday for pranksters and vandals. How did it evolve into America’s second favorite holiday after Christmas, with two-thirds of the population celebrating at parades, parties, haunted houses, or maybe just passing out candy? Explanations abound.

Its freewheeling nature and chance for creative expression may be behind the turnaround. Some social observers say Halloween is so popular because it offers a chance to return briefly to the fun of childhood. Others say people are drawn to a celebration that doesn’t carry any special obligations. Whatever the reason or reasons, the Halloween holiday is one that retailers can celebrate – especially in 2016.


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