Retailers trot out 12-foot skeletons, haunted house cookie sets to boost Halloween sales

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  • As retailers gear up for the lackluster holiday season, they’re putting up Halloween merchandise to boost sales at the start of the crucial quarter.
  • Nearly 70% of Americans plan to celebrate Halloween just like they did before the pandemic, according to a National Retail Federation survey.
  • Companies have taken note: Low has unveiled a 12-foot mummy to compete with Home Depot’s popular skeleton, and Party City is hiring 20,000 seasonal employees.

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Over the past few weeks, Craig Kislo has dug up spray-painted tombstones from his attic, scoured websites for a giant animated reaper, and convinced his teenage son to dress up as a bush to scare off trick or treat lovers.

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Cislo, 43, from Dallas, plans to spend about $700 on Halloween to decorate her family’s front yard. He noticed that more neighbors are joining in, with big inflatables, animatronics, and even an elaborate display inspired by The Walking Dead.

“My wife and I joke—because we walk every day—that we have competitions this year,” he said.

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As retailers gear up for a lackluster holiday season, many are planning to boost early sales in the crucial quarter by offering a wider range of Halloween merchandise. Even as consumers cut spending elsewhere, they say Halloween gives people a chance to get into the holiday spirit with relatively inexpensive celebrations leading up to Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Home Depot as well as Lowe stocked up on a wide range of spooky lawn decorations, including giant mummies and skeletons. Target Executives have expressed high hopes for sales of costumes, haunted cookie kits and other Halloween merchandise, even after the company cut its profit forecast twice. As well as Party Citywhich sells costumes, balloons and bags of candy, plans to hire about 20,000 seasonal employees before the Oct. 31 event.

The Halloween hype is rising as more people return to face-to-face meetings. Participation is expected to return to pre-pandemic levels this year, with nearly 70% of Americans planning to celebrate the event, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey.

This is expected to push total Halloween spending to a record $10.6 billion, up from $10.1 billion last year. On average, consumers plan to spend $100 on candy, decor, cards, and costumes.

For some shoppers, holidays like Halloween are an opportunity to get away from everyday worries. As customers face disturbing headlines, the surge in Covid and political uncertainty, they are looking for more ways to celebrate and “bring joy to their families,” said Christina Hennington, director of development at Target.

“This is one of the reasons we continue to see such strength in our seasonal categories, which we expect to continue into the second half of the year,” she said at the company’s earnings report in August.

12 foot skeleton

For Home Depot and Lowe’s, spring remains the most profitable time of the year. But over the years, home improvement companies have expanded their product lines for Halloween and Christmas.

In 1987, Home Depot added Christmas trees. This was followed by Christmas decor in 2005 and Halloween merchandise in 2013. The company then saw an opportunity to expand seasonal sales in the fall, said Lance Allen, the company’s senior holiday decor salesman.

The retailer’s sales team looked for inspiration by visiting haunted houses and watching classic ’80s Halloween movies and Tim Burton movies. They also wandered around trade shows where they spotted a display of a giant skeleton torso that would inspire the company to create one of its most popular Halloween products.

The skeleton on display was worth thousands of dollars, so Home Depot designed a $299 12-foot skeleton that debuted last year. It became a social media sensation and sold out.

When Home Depot’s “Skelly” skeleton returned this year, the first shipments sold out the first day they became available on July 15, Allen said. Since then, the retailer has received replenishments.

Other Halloween merchandise includes a new $149 Hocus Pocus-themed inflatable figure and an eight-foot animated reaper that recites scary phrases by moving its head and mouth for $249. The company has also added a 15-foot towering phantom – its tallest piece of jewelry – which sells for $399.

This year, Rival Lowe’s unveiled its answer to the skeleton: a 12-foot mummy that sells for $348.

This year, Lowe’s also expanded its Halloween merchandise range by more than 20% and dedicated more space in stores to larger outdoor merchandise. According to Bill Bolz, executive vice president of merchandising for Bill Boltz, decorations with more scary themes such as a life-sized Freddy Krueger and a giant mummy were popular, as were staples such as stuffed animals, hay bales and pumpkins.

Both Home Depot and Lowe’s say Halloween sales are doing well, but they don’t disclose sales figures for that category.

“Relatively inexpensive” ruin

It’s still too early to tell how the Halloween sales will play out this year. Merchandise is already in stores, but sales tend to pick up during October as families prepare for the celebration. Major retailers will provide a sales update in November when they report quarterly earnings.

However, seasonal items seem to be attracting consumer spending.

At the end of September Costco stated during a teleconference that early sales of Halloween merchandise are going well, and Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said the company is stocking up on spooky merchandise like inflatables and outdoor decor even as it cancels other orders and copes with an excess of unwanted goods. product.

Lowe’s Bolz said higher prices for groceries, rent and other necessities don’t seem to be deterring customers from spending.

“When you think about Halloween and think about discretionary categories, it’s probably as discretionary as it gets,” Lowe’s’ Boltz said. He noted that there is demand for more expensive Halloween items, such as large lawn decorations.

Meanwhile, back in Dallas, Kislo is still deciding which new animatronic he will buy for his lawn. He also plans to scavenge for supplies and build a tunnel that stunt lovers will have to go through to get to the porch and get a treat: a chocolate bar or a lollipop.

He said he wanted to create the kind of experience he enjoyed dressing up in costumes and having fun growing up in upstate New York. He remembered that the best houses gave out full-sized candy bars or decorated them supernaturally.

“It was not just: “The light is on. Let’s ring the bell,” he said.

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