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Scary-good story ideas: New Halloween trends

October 17, 2016

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Halloween offers a number of scary-good story angles on the business beat. (Photo via Pixabay.com)

Halloween may be thrilling and mischievous for the average American, but for the retail industry it’s deadly serious. This Halloween is set up to be the most profitable ever, according to the National Retail Federation, which predicts consumer spending will reach $8.4 billion. This would be a $1.5 billion increase from last year, when profits suffered an unusual sag. Here are three business trends to research for Halloween themed articles.

Costumes aren’t just for kids

As Millennials mature, costumes for adults are becoming more and more popular; over 40 percent of adults plan to dress up this year, according to the NRF. This has a big impact on family Halloween spending as adult costumes are often more costly than kids. According to the 2016 Selling Halloween Industry Report, 10 percent more of Halloween retailers said the ideal price point for an adult costume was between $40 and $49. But the biggest growth area in the costume industry comes with four legs. Sales of pet costumes have soared over the past five years, but the cause is only partially the popularity of Halloween. A Fortune survey showed almost 80 percent of pet owners see their pets as part of the family. The market for pet products as a whole is booming, and when combined with the Halloween boom, pet costumes truly have explosive potential.

Pop-up shops and the real estate market

Beginning in mid-September pop-up Halloween stores appear in enviable locations. That’s by design. Halloween retailers spend the previous year scouting for empty locations with high traffic, in order to negotiate short-term leases. According to Citylab, in the height of the real estate crash, empty properties were begging Halloween stores to set up shop. Now, they say, store representatives have to cajole owners to consider a shorter lease than many would desire. Marketplace reports a different perspective. They write that the rising market actually helps short-term leases seem like a better option. In a dropping market landlords want the certainty of a long lease, but when the market is improving it’s better to rent to a short-term client, preserving the flexibility to raise the rent in a few months.

Trick-or-Treating could be disappearing

Slightly under 30 percent of families plan to go trick-or-treating door to door in 2016, according to the NRF 2016 survey. The foundation reports that this is the second-lowest prediction in their 11 years of performing the survey and cites safety as a potential cause. Child pedestrians are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car on Halloween than on any other night of the year, according to USNews. The shifting population in the U.S. from country to city may also increase parental caution, as they worry about letting kids knock on strange doors. Finally, there is the push for kids to eat healthy. As savory snacks and low-fat menu options soar in popularity, candy sales may drop in the coming years.

Reporter’s takeaway:

• Find out what local families are planning’ for Halloween. If they won’t be trick-or-treating, see if  the money that would have been spent on candy is now going to haunted houses and corn mazes.

• Talk to landlords in the area to see where they stand on  the pop-up store debate. If there is a pop-up Halloween store in your area add their perspective on the cost and difficulty of renting out space in the current market.

• Use Halloween as a reason to dive into the up-and-coming pet market. Talk to pet stores, pet service providers and pet owners. See what pet costumes are popular in your town and if local costume stores have seen a recent raise in pet-related sales.


  • Jenna Miller

    Jenna is a journalist and videographer residing in West Philadelphia. She’s previously worked for Delaware Online and the Salisbury Daily Times, both part of the USA Today Network. She aims to create thoughtful, community-centered work. Jenna graduat...

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