Is the Halloween retail opportunity becoming less scary?
Party City last week announced plans to open 25 Halloween City stores, down from 255 in 2019. In September, Spirit Halloween revealed plans to open about 1,400 pop-ups, three percent higher than last year.
The difference reflects wide uncertainty regarding Halloween selling this year as Americans seek alternatives to traditional activities that will be hit with restrictions due to pandemic concerns.
The National Retail Federation’s (NRF) annual Halloween survey found more than three-quarters of Americans saying COVID-19 is impacting their Halloween celebration plans, with planned participation down to 58 percent from 68 percent in 2019.
Overall consumer spending, however, is only expected to decline 8.3 percent as consumers participating expect to spend $92.12 on average, up from $86.27 last year. Among those celebrants, safe at-home activities ranked highest: 53 percent plan to decorate their homes, 46 percent plan to carve a pumpkin and 18 percent will dress up their pet.
“There’s no doubt in my mind we’re going to see Halloween this year and we are expecting it to be comparable with last year in terms of the retailer’s business,” Steven Silverstein, president of Spencer Gifts, the owner of Spirit Halloween, told Forbes. “But of course it’s going to be different, we’re spending a lot more time in our homes and a large component of Halloween this year is going to be celebrated at home.”
Some safer activities being promoted in articles include home decorating contests, drive-by trick-or-treating, car parades and virtual costume contests.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week included in its list of moderate-risk activities: small, socially-distanced outdoor, open-air costume parades; outdoor movie nights; open-air haunted forests; and pumpkin patches or apple orchards.
Halloween2020.org, an ambitious effort from the Halloween & Costume Association, Hershey’s, Spirit Halloween, NRF and others, offers an interactive map detailing COVID-19 risks across counties, based on a seven-day average. The map indicates by color the risk of Halloween activities in each county.
Participation also may benefit from Halloween falling on a Saturday and pent-up demand for “fun” after enduring a pandemic. Katie Thomas, at Kearney Consumer Institute, told NPR, “It’s been a long, hot summer. Everyone’s been cooped up in the house, so people are looking for something to celebrate.”
- Party City To Hire Approximately 20,000 Employees For The Halloween Season – Party City
- Spirit Halloween Unveils the Tricks to Make Halloween Happen in 2020 – Spirit Halloween/PRNewswire
- Consumers Anticipate New Ways to Celebrate Halloween, Despite COVID-19 – National Retail Federation
- Halloween Business Nothing To Be Scared Of: Spirit CEO – Forbes
- Halloween Guidelines – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Party City Reveals New Trends To Help “You Boo You” Safely This Halloween – Party City/PRNewswire
- Halloween Safety Guidelines Announced, Incorporates Harvard Global Health Institute Tools to Help Families Celebrate the Season Safely – Halloween & Costume Association
- New Survey Data: Halloween is Happening And Americans Are Ready To Celebrate Creatively And Safely Throughout October – National Confectioners Association
- Hershey Braces for Halloween Hit From Coronavirus – HalloweenCostumes.com
- Will COVID-19 bludgeon Halloween sales? – RetailWire
- Spook and social-distancing: Families, groups find ways to preserve Halloween fun amid the pandemic – Kitsap Sun
- No Trick Or Treat: Americans Get Creative To Celebrate Halloween Safely –NPR
- Halloween candy sales are up 13% vs 2019. – Candy USA
- Consumer excitement for Halloween is up to 80% from 63% back in July. – Candy USA
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Which Halloween categories will likely do better versus worse than usual due to the COVID-19 adjustments to the season? Have the alternative activities being planned made you more optimistic or less about the retail industry’s prospects for Halloween than you were a month or two ago?