Kennedy: Sales of Halloween items still growing

Younger generations celebrate occasion more
The Costumer owner and president Kathe Sheehan in the shop on Barrett Street in Schenectady in 2014.
The Costumer owner and president Kathe Sheehan in the shop on Barrett Street in Schenectady in 2014.

If you’re like me and thought there seemed to be more attention focused this year on decorating for Halloween, take heart: We were right.

And here’s why: Close to half of consumers who indicated they planned to mark the day said they would decorate their home or yard.

That desire to create a spooky scene outdoors or to string orange lights indoors on a mantle laden with black cats, bats and pumpkins will account for sales of some $2.7 billion this year, according to projections from the National Retail Federation.

Overall, the group expects 2017 Halloween spending to hit a record $9.1 billion. Costumes, candy and decorations are the Big 3 in that total, with sales of greeting cards a distant fourth. The data are from a September survey of 7,000 consumers conducted by Prosper Insights Analytics.

To be sure, Halloween spending is miniscule compared with other occasions marked by consumers and tracked by the NRF, such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Easter. Topping them all, of course, is the Christmas season, for which retailers this year could rake in nearly $680 billion. But a deeper dive into historical numbers from the NRF shows that projected spending on Halloween decorations nearly doubled over the last decade.

A big pullback occurred in 2009 during the Great Recession, and a couple of hiccups are seen in 2011 and 2015, but otherwise sales of decorations have been rising steadily

The NRF findings were echoed in a separate industry survey last year of specialty Halloween retailers –- year-round costume, party and related stores. There, a third of respondents pointed to indoor and outdoor decorations as their biggest revenue producer the previous year.

Recent sales fliers from major retailers have been replete with Halloween decor, from skull candelabras, spider garland and black wreaths to inflatable ghosts and life-sized zombie animatronics for the lawn. Home Depot, Target and Lowe’s, to name a few, also put Halloween-themed offerings on social media to subtly tout store products.

Target’s “Epic Halloween” page on Pinterest shows “tricked out” front porches and “super spooky” mantels. Home Depot engaged bloggers on its own blog to create festive seasonal spaces for the 2017 Halloween/Harvest Style Challenge. Lowe’s Twitter account links to step-by- step Halloween do-it- yourself projects.

Those social media inroads are key to engaging Millennials (25- to 34-year-olds) and Gen Z’ers (18-to- 24-year- olds), who now represent a key buying demographic, says Ana Serafin Smith, senior spokeswoman for the NRF.

The two generations feel “more of a need to participate,” she says, and are keen about sharing their experiences.

The 2017 NRF data show them more likely than other generations to celebrate Halloween by dressing up in costumes, visiting a haunted house, and throwing or attending a party.

They’re also spending to decorate their home and yard — and, as Smith noted, showing it all off online.

Marlene Kennedy is a freelance columnist. Opinions expressed in her column are her own and not necessarily the newspaper’s. Reach her at [email protected].

Categories: Business, News, Opinion, Schenectady County

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