Ah, Halloween. That time of the year when children are allowed to trespass with a mask on, and take candy from strangers. It’s also the time when adults either wear the cheapest, last-minute costume, or go crazy and compete for the most elaborate outfit. Although there are major differences in how much each customer spends, the Halloween season is still an economic powerhouse. It is estimated that the average consumer will spend $108 in 2023, up from $100 last year. Halloween is a major event for retailers, and customers’ interest does not decrease. Let’s see how customers shop during the season and how businesses can plan for it.
Record Halloween Spending: An Overview of the $12.2 Billion Estimate
It is estimated that consumers will spend $12.2 billion on this year’s spooky season. This would be the highest amount ever recorded, and a massive growth of 8% compared to last year. It is interesting to notice that the increase over the last 10 years is similar to inflation between 2013 and 2023 (35% vs 32%), although most of the inflation happened in the last three years. Even accounting for inflation, consumers spent less in the last three years, but Halloween is still a very popular holiday. Customers are shopping weeks ahead. According to Phil Rist, Prosper Executive Vice President of Strategy “Younger consumers are eager to begin their Halloween shopping, with more than half of those ages 25-44 planning to shop before or during September.”
When looking at how customers spend their Halloween dollars, the National Retail Foundations estimates a near-even split among costumes, decor, and candies.
While candies are, for the most part, bought at the grocery store, costumes and decors are very popular online. Not only do people tend to buy more stuff online generally, but they also look online for inspiration. It is now so easy to find something you like on social media, click on a link to Amazon and have it arrive the next day. Moreover, early shoppers benefit from easy returns, although the majority still prefer in-store purchases. Impulse buying at major retailers like Walmart and Target remains a prevalent trend.
Halloween purchases are very influenced by pop culture, and we can expect to see many Barbies and Ken at Halloween parties this year.
Crafting Halloween Magic: How Businesses can Prepare for it
Given this massive opportunity, businesses must prepare for this event. Halloween costumes, decor, and to a lesser extent, candies are highly seasonal items. Businesses who sell these items early have an advantage over others, and can for example resort to marketing tactics such as offering deals and discounts for those who buy several weeks in advance.
Timing is key, and it can be very challenging to concentrate efforts when customers are the most ready to buy. As an example, I looked at the estimated daily sales on Amazon for a rather popular Halloween item. It is estimated that the brand sells on average 5 units a day during the off-season, compared to 254 units per day in October – a massive 5000% increase! Sellers can’t afford to be out of stock during this very important month, but overstocking would pose a year-long storage dilemma.
A common misconception is that only businesses specializing in candies, costumes, or Halloween decor can reap the season’s rewards. In reality, B2C businesses across most industries can find ways to increase their revenues during the event. A bakery can for example sell Halloween themed cupcakes, and share Halloween cookies recipes on its social media. A craft store can offer“DIY costume kits” and create video content on how to craft the perfect costume. A simple display of black and orange may not be enough in attracting customers, but clever and innovative marketing ideas can be game-changers for more traditional businesses.
Halloween is not just a day of wearing cool costumes and eating candy; it’s a commercial juggernaut, with spending projected to surpass any previous record. As the spooky season approaches, businesses must prepare to tap into this multi-billion-dollar opportunity. Costumes, food, or decor ideas are being shared faster than ever, thanks to media like Tiktok. Customers want to easily go from idea to purchase, which is now possible with social commerce. Even businesses that have nothing to do with traditional Halloween products can take advantage of the season and increase their revenues. Halloween, despite the impending arrival of Black Friday and Christmas, continues to hold tremendous importance for consumers and stands as a crucial opportunity for many entrepreneurs.