Halloween 2009 – Retail Trick or Treat?

Posted in General on November 22nd, 2009 by Ghoul

According to some reports, Halloween 2009 was a retail success, with increased sales over 2008.

Internet, mail-order and phone sales are reported to be up 18% on last year, considering the postal strikes, this is very good.

The High street sales are reported to have been increased, attributed to non-food shopping items, which includes Halloween Decorations and Halloween Fancy Dress items.   Sales are reported to  have risen by 3.8% by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) – this being hailed as the best month since 2002.

Other reports show Waitrose having 30% increase in pumpkin sales and 21% increase in Halloween themed treats.

Timing may have been a significant contributing factor to these increased sales.  Halloween fell on a Saturday this year, at the end of the half term holiday for most children.

In reality, is this really a significant increase, these figures are actually set against the same period for 2008, a period when the economic downturn was already established.  Remember that there was also a reduced VAT level through this 2009 period.

We know from our own business that business last year was lower then before and the business this year was even worse.  Typically operating costs are higher, product costs have increased every time a supplier can get away with it, but the consumer will not pay more, therefore it’s typically the retailer in the middle that suffers – we know this as a reality, it wasn’t a shock nor are we complaining, it’s just a simple painful fact that we needed to factor into this years business.

Not wanting to blacken the hopes of market recovery, I just wanted to add a note of harsh reality to the reported upturn in the sales, the proof is actually within the actual profit margin for the season – we can all sell more for less, but profit really counts.

As every year, we carefully research the competition, the products, prices, advertising etc, this year the high street presence actually seemed quite minimal, including the major supermarkets.  Our biggest business threat seemed to come from the lower priced shops – Poundland in particular have gained a significant marketplace in the pocketmoney costume, low cost partywares and decorations arena.

Although I’ve not seen reports of the USA Halloween market performance for 2009, they had expectations that their market could be 15% down.

I perceive that Halloween 2010 may be even more harsh for the smaller business and retailer, again the suppliers will increase the prices, there very well could be more unemployed and more people keeping spending to a bare minimum.

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