As an online Halloween retailer, things have been getting quite unpleasant over the last few years due to a number of reasons and factors – One of the mains ones being that the high street competition is getting too strong to fight.
Over the last few days, I’ve seen the first Halloween items – Halloween Decorations, Halloween Costumes, Halloween Party stuff and more, stocked in the local high street stores and Supermarkets.
Some of the products are priced way below my suppliers prices that I would pay, but the product I buy is of much higher quality. There is no way the average consumer will pay the price I need to charge when they can get this cheaper product – in their mind, it’s a purchase that has to last a few days at most, so cheaper is good and quality much less of a consideration.
Last year we decided to clear out quite a bit of our Halloween Decoration stock – Halloween Decorations and Halloween Props that have sat there for a while, taking space and basically dead money. Across the lines, we made little or no profit, but at least it recouped some revenue from idle stock and cleared valuable space.
I can see why the public buy these Halloween products, they’re so cheap, there is also no postage to pay and they get to actually see what they are buying. I can totally understand the buyer mentality, why search and buy online when you can get what you want or quite similar in the high street stores quite cheaply.
These companies, the high street stores, have multiple outlets all over the country, the companies are large and have huge buying influence, often backed by well established import/packaging/distribution systems etc.
I always check out the high street Halloween offerings every year, here in the UK, I find that typically ASDA supermarkets and Poundland have offered aggressive pricing and wide product selection. Today, I came across a new chain, B&M, this chain are offering Halloween Decorations, Halloween Costumes and related Halloween products cheaper than Poundland – from my perspective, only the consumer can win here.
A number of years ago, we had a huge online turnover for Halloween Decorations via eBay, it quite literally took everything we had to process the volume of orders, manage stock, pack and post – some days taking several large mailbags to the Post Office and working into the early hours of the next morning getting the packing and labeling completed.
The following two years declined sharply, for a number of reasons:
- Competition grew - both online and on the high street, Halloween Costumes being the first items they stocked in abundance.
- The economic downturn hit – as a result, people had much less cash to spend, so they either re-used what they had or simply cut back on spending.
- Here in the uk, the postal service decided to strike right in the peak period – this totally decimating what was left of that online Halloween retail season.
- Our main suppliers cut more lines each year, reducing the diverse collection we had, specially some of our more profitable lines and higher volume Halloween Decorations.
- Our competitors caught on to our products, which is fair enough, but decided to sell them at stupid prices resulting in really low margins, destroying the product value and profit for all involved.
- High street competition hit harder, offering lower quality Halloween products at low prices
As well as monitoring the High Street Halloween offering, I also monitor online sales activity and products offered, for this year so far and last year:
- Reduced variety of Products – many sellers now offering the same products, resulting in a price war – it’s the only difference they can give.
- The actual amount of units sold is reducing (based upon monitoring eBay completed listings reports)
- On Auction sites, the item price remains low and little bid activity, if any, takes place.
- The Halloween sales season shortens, at our peak, we was busy from July to a few days before Halloween, now that seasonal sales window is much shorter, due to people spending less and also waiting to see what the High street will be offering before topping up via online stores.
As a Halloween retailer, this is quite unpleasant – as a Halloween prop and Haunt builder this is quite good. This does give a cheap source of supplies to use to re-purpose within Halloween props and Haunt products. I can get cheap Halloween costumes and Cheap Halloween Masks for props and characters, skulls and animated products to hack and re-use.
Halloween is greatly important to me and my business – and will always remain that way.
The only thing that will change is the way we operate our Halloween business – I am constantly exploring new potential markets, new customer bases and new products.
Whatever happens – Halloween must always remain Scary Fun for all the Family