After two years of uncertainty, consumers appear ready to open their wallets and front doors for Halloween. The increase in holiday revelers can be a great mid-season boost for retailers, particularly brick-and-mortar locations using reliable data to anticipate multi-channel trends.
According to the Washington, DC-based National Retail Federation (NRF), Halloween spending should exceed pre-pandemic levels this year. Outlays on costumes, candy and decorations are forecast to reach a record $10.6bn. That’s an almost 5% increase compared to last year and 20% higher than 2019—before the pandemic upended in-person celebrations.
Online shopping has taken a bigger slice of Halloween spending but still struggles to compete with the unique tactile experience of shopping at physical locations. In the US, a retailer’s aisle strewn with spooky costumes—those not selected by excited children or adults struggling for the perfect costume idea—is as closely linked with the autumn season as fallen leaves or jack-o-lanterns on a front porch.
Better understanding the link between online and in-store shopping is also key for adjusting the layout of physical stores to ensure optimal resource allocation, which remains a major issue because of stubbornly high inflation and difficulty finding and retaining staff. A lack of clarity regarding layout and staff deployment can lead to long queues that unnecessarily scare customers away.
The NRF survey points to an interesting dynamic between online and legacy retailers, one that many companies are trying to better understand. According to survey results, online searches remain the leading source of inspiration for costumes, around 36%, but only 31% of shopping for the holiday will happen online. Less than a quarter of those surveyed, about 19%, intend to look for ideas within stores, meaning most customers will arrive ready to buy.
The relationship between different sales channels is changing how many retailers measure success, as conversion rates sometimes fail to reflect the complexity of shopping in the modern era. Instead, data collection solutions that provide accurate multi-channel, chain-wide benchmarking of key performance indicators (KPIs) have become an industry-wide goal for all seasons.
Old Country with New Trends
A Celtic tradition, Halloween's link with Europe has strengthened in recent decades with the export of US culture. Long before Stranger Things, US entertainment— E.T. and Karate Kid alongside other less kid-friendly films—showcased the US version of All Hallows' Eve. Take a short walk on any of Europe's high streets today and you will likely encounter shop windows filled with mannequins donning the latest costume trends (pumpkins and skeletons for 2022).
The US is not the only country to see its autumn season celebration land on distant shores. Today you can find imagery and customs related to Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) far from Mexico. Often, elements of imported celebrations run parallel to local traditions, such as Saint Martins in Germany and parts of Switzerland, linked to unique shopping trends.
The result is the same: an increase in shoppers targeting seasonal products. Whether it's masks, pre-packaged candy, pumpkins, face paint or craft materials, mid-autumn celebrations present retailers in different categories with unique challenges and opportunities.
Since a costume with peak value on 31 October may be worthless the following day, retailers want to understand customer trends better, both in real-time and historically, to optimize inventory with date-specific value. Make sure the holiday becomes a treat and not a trick for your fourth quarter.
Tags: | retail | shopping | brick-and-mortar | customer counting | staffing