Will Halloween provide a spooktacular start to the Golden Quarter?

Halloween has grown to become one of the most lucrative events in the annual retail calendar. In 2014 just over one-third of shoppers tell us that they are likely to celebrate Halloween, and based on analysis of our research, we estimate the event will be worth £283.4m to UK retailers this year.

It’s really not surprising that retailers continue to ramp up their investment in the event year-on-year, scaling up space and range allocation, and becoming increasingly ambitious in their in-store and online execution. The fast growing event also continues to attract new players to join the market each year.

Savvy’s latest research investigates shoppers’ plans for Halloween 2014, including how they plan to celebrate, how much they expect to spend and what they expect to see from retailers. Here we share some of the findings.

Who plans to get involved?

  • Families have a higher propensity to get involved (60% of families with children). In part this helps explain why family-focused Asda performs so well
  • Despite the clear importance of families to the market, young adults’ increasing participation in the event is fuelling much of the growth we see and now account for a large proportion of the market’s value
  • Nearly half of 18-34 year olds tell us that they plan to celebrate Halloween in 2014

How do shoppers expect to celebrate?

  • Of those planning to get involved, the majority (72%) plan to buy sweets and other small treats
  • 41% intend to decorate their homes, while 37% say they will buy fancy dress
  • Just under one-third plan to attend a Halloween party, with around one-fifth saying they’ll host a party. Younger shoppers drive this increasingly important aspect of the market

Broadening commercial opportunity

  • Growing interest in Halloween among younger adults continues to be instrumental in reshaping the market opportunity from a commercial perspective
  • Costumes and sweets remain large components of expenditure (worth £64m and £54m to the market respectively)
  • Shoppers plan to spend a substantial £117m on food and drink for parties and other get-togethers
  • Adding in home decorations, our analysis sizes the overall market at £283m

Expectations of retailers

  • Shoppers want to be inspired in-store, with 63% of those planning to celebrate Halloween expecting to see a dedicated aisle at their supermarket
  • 47% would expect to be able to buy bargain trick or treat packs
  • 44% would like to see retailers provide special Halloween related products
  • 38% would expect retailers to have special offers and coupons relating to the event

Advance planning

  • Two-thirds of Halloween shoppers intend to plan their purchases at least a week in advance. In part we expect this is due to the high proportion of shoppers intending to attend parties and decorate their homes
  • However it also reflects the level of Halloween activity in retail from September which is already encouraging shoppers to plan a little earlier and provide a little extra inspiration

Final thoughts

In light of continuing weakness in the grocery market and an increasingly aggressive competitive threat from discounters, the importance attached to events like Halloween among the big four has escalated. These events allow the leading players to take advantage of their larger store spaces to inspire shoppers and create a little extra excitement, which discounters struggle to match due to limited space. That said, discounters have a proven track record of working the space they have incredibly hard, meaning that keen pricing will play a key role in determining this year’s Halloween winners and losers. There’s also growing competition from high street retailers to take account of, including from the likes of Poundland and TK Maxx.

Retailers will undoubtedly be hoping that rising consumer confidence will translate into strong Halloween trading this year and mark a solid start to the all-important ‘golden quarter’. The fact that Halloween falls during half-term in most parts of the country this year, will certainly be welcomed by retailers.

Looking at recent trading data, the market could do with a much need boost to what has, so far, been a lacklustre 2014 for the leading grocers.