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10 Halloween business trends to jumpstart a story

September 27, 2017

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Total Halloween spending was expected to reach $8.4 billion last year, according to the National Retail Federation. ("Jack" image by Jason OX4 via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)
Total Halloween spending was expected to reach $8.4 billion last year, according to the National Retail Federation. ("Jack" image by Jason OX4 via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Costume shops and vintage clothing retailers obviously get a surge in foot traffic as Halloween approaches. But they aren’t the only businesses to benefit from this holiday.

Halloween creep

Each year, stores bust out Halloween candy and décor earlier and earlier, a phenomenon known as Halloween creep. This reporter spotted orange and black items on shelves well before Labor Day. Since most shoppers will complete their Halloween purchases by Sunday, October 29, retailers may be pushing extra-hard this year.

Teal Pumpkin Project

The National Institutes of Health estimates that 5 percent of American children have a food allergy. Beyond from nut, dairy or other allergies, diabetic children also have to skip Halloween candy. The Teal Pumpkin Project is a movement encouraging households to make non-food treats (such as stickers, glow sticks or bookmarks) available. This could give a boost to retailers such as craft supply shops or dollar stores.

DIY costumes

Before mass-produced Halloween costumes hit the market, kids and their parents made their own, and DIY costumes are making a comeback. A 2016 survey conducted by ORC International Research on behalf of Goodwill found that 57 percent of adults favored DIY costumes, up from 51 percent in 2015. It’s worth looking into where locals are buying supplies, and if  local craft supply shops are offering tutorials or make-and-take events.

Escape rooms

Escape rooms—where groups of people solve clues and attempt to escape from a locked room—are popular as a corporate team-building activity as well as a spooky social outing. Themes include zombies, spies or Star Wars. Escape room review website Room Escape Artist reports that the U.S. had over 900 escape room companies in mid-2016, up from 22 at the end of 2014.

Seasonal beer & wine

Local wineries and breweries may be releasing pumpkin or other seasonal flavors to toast Halloween or harvest in general, and local restaurants and bars may have these libations on tap. Seasonal data from BevSpot shows that while peak beer consumption occurs over the summer, wine consumption peaks in late autumn. Also look into the local consumption of speciality snacks.

Corn mazes

Seasonal attraction like corn mazes are big business with consultants and designers helping farmers cash in. Modern Farmer reports that corn mazes can make farmers anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000 each year. This Rutgers publication breaks down the costs, including corn production, maze design and maintenance, staffing and signage.

Professional makeup artists

Some kids or adults who go all out with their Halloween costumes may hire a professional makeup artist to transform them into zombies, celebrities or other creative ideas. See how local makeup artists and salons are promoting themselves.

Last year’s data from the National Retail Federation show that Millennials are the top spenders on adult Halloween costumes. With recreational marijuana now legal in several states, cannabis-themed costumes are among the trends predicted for this year at the Halloween and Party Expo in New Orleans earlier this year. Other grownup costume trends included parodies of President Trump and border guards, Studio 54 dancers and Captain Obvious.

Pet costumes

As more Americans treat their pets as members of the family, many are dressing up the family dog, cat or other pet in costume. In fact, NRF reports that 16 percent of survey respondents last year planned to dress their pet in a costume. How are local retailers marketing pet costumes? Are they hosting special events or costume contests for furry friends?

Trunk or treating

Amid concerns about the safety of kids wandering door to door at night, some communities now offer alternatives such as trunk or treating in a parking lot or Mall-o-ween events that involve trick or treating at a shopping mall. What local businesses host or sponsor these events and what is their ROI?


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