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BOO HOO: Halloween, a Missed Retail Opportunity

In what holiday event does 75% of the country participate and spend $11.3 billion? Halloween. The numbers surprised me too, and the amount we are spending every year on Halloween is increasing, with 8 out of 10 households planning to spend more this year on Halloween than in 2013. With Halloween falling on a Friday this year, this Halloween should be one of the best in memory for retailers. But are they taking full advantage of it?

On Saturday October 18th, I took my 3 kids on the hunt for Halloween goodies. They already had their costumes, but we were looking for some spooky décor for our yard, as well as the perfect pumpkin carving tools. We visited 1 specialty store, 2 discounters and 2 big box home improvement stores. What did we find? Santa Claus, candy canes and Christmas cards. The third week in October? Really?

Try explaining this Winter Wonderland of Christmas to my inquisitive 5-year-old son, Gavin. Here’s the conversation:

Gavin: Where’s the Halloween stuff?

Me: Over here (pointing to a pathetic clearance section).

Gavin: That’s it?

Me: Yep.

Gavin: Christmas is a long way away. Why do they have all the Christmas stuff out?

Me: It is a long way off, and I don’t know why they have all the Christmas stuff out.

Gavin: If they had more Halloween stuff, they could sell more, couldn’t they?

They could. It’s unfortunate, and it is unfortunate that it took a 5-year-old to figure this out. Yes, retailers could sell more. All five stores we visited had next-to-nothing Halloween items left, and all had Christmas merchandise on the floor – missed opportunity on two fronts.

First, if you have a holiday that is an $11.3 billion opportunity, a retailer needs to take full advantage of it. Halloween merchandise should be the focus until November 1st. We would have bought more merchandise had it been available to us, but we had no choices. I left with my money in my pocket, unspent on Halloween OR Christmas goodies.

Second, attention retailers: Your brand is taking a hit. You can’t quantify this, but it is. Customers don’t want to see Christmas stuff on the shelves in the third week of October. Simply put, wait until November to roll-out Christmas. The results will come.

Customers vote with their dollars – always have; always will. I suspect that customers, regardless of who they are, would vote affirmatively for more Halloween goods before Halloween. Likewise, I think customers would vote to wait to start the Christmas season to November.

Source: Leinbach-Reyhle, Nicole (2014, October 23). Study Reports Halloween Spending To Average Over $100 Per Family. Forbes. Retrieved from www.forbes.com.

Image: MattysFlicks

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