Halloween in August?
While some customers seem to lament the arrival of Christmas promotions in July, is Halloween arriving in August any better?
An article on NPR explored the reasons why Halloween costumes, candy and decorations appear to be showing up well before Labor Day.
Purdue University retail management professor Richard Feinberg told NPR that retailers are putting out seasonal merchandise – whether Christmas, Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day, Valentine’s Day or other holidays – earlier to capture each planned holiday spend.
"The marketplace is so competitive that they can’t take a chance that people are going to spend their $50 somewhere else," said Prof. Feinberg.
Earlier in-store merchandising also creates a larger selling period while extending the time before an item goes on sale, said Dinesh Gauri, assistant professor of marketing at Syracuse University.
But Marlin Hutchens, market vice president at Walgreens, told NPR that one of primary reasons seasonal items are appearing on the floor earlier is because of logistics. "There’s not a great deal of storage space in stores," he said.
Unmentioned in the article was the growing popularity of Halloween, which has become the third largest party day behind New Year’s and Super Bowl Sunday. According to the NRF BIGResearch Halloween Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, the total amount consumers planned to spend for the Halloween holiday overall in 2010 reached $5.8 billion, steadily increasing from only $3.3 billion in 2005. Total planned spending on costumes over that five-year period grew to $2.05 billion from $1.15 million in 2005; Halloween candy, to $1.78 billion from $840,000; and Halloween greeting cards, to $350,000 from $140,000.
A study by IBISWorld still ranked Halloween as the sixth largest retail sales holiday. According to its Holiday Spending Sized Up report, Christmas led the way by far with $135.2 billion in retail sales spending; followed by Thanksgiving, $29.0 billion; Valentines, $18.4 billion; Mothers Day, $16.8 billion; Easter, $15.0 billion; Fathers Day, $9.8 billion; and finally Halloween, $6 billion.
NPR generally found customers somewhat indifferent to the early arrivals with a few minor complaints. Ryan Tilden, a shopper in Washington, D.C., told NPR, "It just makes me feel rushed."
But Walgreens’ Mr. Hutchens said grumbling doesn’t appear to impact sales. He said, "Some people will complain as they’re putting it in their basket."
- Why Stores Sell Halloween Stuff Before Labor Day – NPR
- After Spooky 2009, Halloween Spending Bounces Back to ’08 Levels, Halloween Spending and Retail Buying Trends 2005-2010 – Sales Predictions – National Retail Federation
- Halloween Retail Spending Plans For Costumes, Candy & Decorations – Comparison – About.com
- Holiday Spending Sized Up – IBISWorld
- Bah, Humbug to Christmas in July Promos – RetailWire
Discussion Questions: What are the pros and cons of early seasonal holiday selling for events outside of Christmas? How important is an early start to retail performance for Halloween?