Feb 19, 2020
Halloween 2020 & 2021
Jess Schmidt

These two epic Halloween weekends mean retailers need to plan for increased sales and more traffic. We sat down with several industry suppliers to understand what they’ve seen in past years with weekend Halloweens and what current trends will also add to the buying equation.

Trends in costuming

Unlike children, who are content with the licensed character costumes as they come, teens and adults have trended toward customized and uniquely accessorized costumes in the past few years, partially fueled by the wish to look unique on social media. The Roaring ’20s promises to be a big theme for this year. By adding a wig, shawl, shoes, headband, earrings and stockings, a flapper costume can include a stock dress and look like it’s a custom costume.

This means that costume, accessories and makeup categories may see a bump for adults and teens. “Take a good look at (your) teen and adult business, because an 8 to 10% increase is what I expect to see in that category,” said Howard Beige, executive vice president at Rubie’s Costume Company. That increase is calculated based on trends Rubie’s has seen in years with Halloween on a weekend over the 68 years Rubie’s has been in the industry.

Family costuming is also hot. A family could dress up as characters from their favorite movie or choose a theme. Licensed costumes are a natural go-to for the family costume category. Whether families prefer The Incredibles, Star Wars, Baby Shark, Frozen or another favorite, they are likely to find licensed costumes that work for both adults and children so they can dress up as a family.

Increase in parties — and their extravagance

A large driver of increases in every category will be increases in weekend parties, both at home and at bars. It’s not just adult parties, though; this year will see more family parties on Halloween day. More parties will mean more themed décor sales, centerpieces and disposable plates and napkins will be on shoppers’ lists.

With Halloween falling on a weekend, party- throwers will have more time to set up and may tend to get more elaborate in decorating and planning.

How can retailers maximize sales for Halloween 2020 and 2021?

Merchandising is key

The preparation time for Halloween is perfect for re-organizing merchandise to drive sales of impulse

items, such as accessories and make-up to go with a stock costume. “(It’s a) tremendous advantage to brick-and-mortar retailers. On the internet costumes dominate, but when you walk in a store, you can accessorize by adding all these pieces — impulse sales you never knew you needed,” said Warren Berkowitz of Forum Novelties.

To cater to the family costume trends, merchandise all characters and sizes from each licensed set together, allowing families to get in and out faster.

Planning and ordering for 2020 and 2021

Lisa Bennett, product marketer at Pioneer Balloons and Qualatex, recommended that retailers start planning at least six months before Halloween sales will start, especially since weekend parties will equal more décor sales. Bennett’s team spent time gathering feedback from their customers, and the consensus was that when Halloween is on a weekend, more parties occurred. “Offer products differently and plan for more sales,” Bennett said.

Beige anticipates that trade shows will have a bigger push this year in anticipation of the higher inventory levels needed to prepare for Halloween being on a weekend. “You have to go, see what is new and place orders,” Beige said.

Advertising ideas

Advertising is a key way to gain traction earlier than usual. A perennial issue that party and Halloween retailers experience is that shoppers wait until the last week before Halloween to purchase their costumes. This means starting to send e-blasts and post on social media about the exciting costume, accessories and décor ideas being offered. “The earlier they start with messaging, e-blasts, getting people prepared and (their) minds running about what they will be, it will get them in the door to see all the ideas,” said Bernice Nesbit of Disguise Inc.

Berkowitz recommends that retailers create costume and accessory bundles as well since this will set them apart from the competition. If a shopper can only get the bundle in one store, then they are more likely to stop by and make a purchase at that store.

Since bars and restaurants may also have Halloween parties, partner with a nearby hot spot for advertising. Place advertising about unique costuming ideas in the bar, and allow the bar to advertise Halloween party specials they will offer during their event. In this way, retailers can “share the expense of an ad or coupon,” Berkowitz said.

The bottom line is that retailers need to be ready for those who create custom costumes in advance as well as have stock for the final push from the last-minute shoppers.

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