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Are You Ready to Let Your Goblins Loose?

After nearly two years of being scared, frightened, tormented, terrorized and threatened, one would think that most of us would be ready to forgo the one holiday that promises the celebration of really scary things. After the experience of COVID-19, we all could be forgiven for passing on ghosts, goblins and all things that go bump in the night. Despite the experience of a global pandemic, consumers are excited and looking forward to celebrating the second-biggest spending holiday of the year. The steady increase in vaccination rates is beginning to allay fears of COVID-19 and is leading many revelers to release pent-up demand to party. Halloween is back, America!

According to the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) annual survey performance by Prosper Insights & Analytics, over 148 million adults in the US and millions of treat-seeking youngsters are eager to drape on the costumes and celebrate Halloween-related events. A recent Harris Poll indicated that “86 percent of Americans between the ages of 35 and 44 and 66 percent of those between 18 and 34 are either more or as excited about Halloween this year than in previous years.” Even those public officials who have been dampening public participation in any event that gathers together more than a few participants are feeling optimistic.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, predicts that trick-or-treating will be more normal in 2021, especially for those who feel comfortable spending time outdoors amid the pandemic. “I wouldn’t necessarily go to a crowded Halloween party, but I think that we should be able to let our kids go trick-or-treating in small groups,” Walensky said.

Such positive comments, though guarded and tempered with a bit of caution, is far removed from official recommendations in 2020. The National Retail Federation estimated Halloween spending was off by 8.3 percent last year. This year consumers are expected to spend a record $10.14 billion, or $102.74 each, on Halloween-related items.

For retailers who procrastinated in preparing for this Halloween’s spending season, the news may be more “trick” than “treat”. Many consumers began Halloween shopping in August and September, mostly from online e-tailers and in the Nation’s leading discount stores, which introduced holiday offerings earlier than usual. Ted Decker, Home Depot president and COO, revealed that an early online release of Halloween products quickly sold out. “That’s a very strong indication that people are still going to engage in decorating,” he said.

After announcing that Party City was opening 80 to 100 new stores this year, CEO Brad Weston stated that the company is “well-positioned for the upcoming Halloween season. We’re ready for any level of demand as we are sort of still in a volatile and dynamic time.”

There is still time for retailers to polish-up digital media plays and tell the brand story. User generated content is a good method to engage customers in conversation about favorite Halloween experiences. Get started now to deliver holiday messages and promotions at least 2-3 weeks in advance of the scary day. The month of October is a great time to create interesting, holiday related blogs and news articles designed to excite and motivate customers to take action. With some products still encountering supply-chain shortages, a wider selection of Halloween products can help fill-in many of those open spaces on the store shelves.

“Consumers continue to place importance on celebrating our traditional holidays, even if by untraditional standards,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Retailers are prepared to meet the increased demand for seasonal décor, costumes and other items that allow families the opportunity to observe Halloween safely.”

It’s time, once again, to let your goblins loose!