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Halloween provides a business treat for many stores

Published October 20, 2013 12:04 pm

Retailers • Many local shops say the fall holiday rivals Christmas for sales.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Taylorsville • Halloween guarantees many retailers a pre-Christmas treat. In some cases, the spooky holiday means even more cash than the yule season.

"Our sales increase when we hit Halloween," said Laura Collins of the Blue Boutique in Sugar House. "A lot of people come in and buy our costumes because we have so many. I'd say it exceeds Christmas by far."

A national survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics for the National Retail Federation predicts that nearly 158 million U.S. consumers will participate in Halloween activities this year, spending an average of $75.03 individually and $6.9 billion collectively.

That is down slightly from a year ago, when 170 million participated, spending $79.82. But Halloween spending has increased 54.7 percent since 2005.

"Still one of the most beloved and anticipated consumer holidays, Halloween will be far from a bust this year," said Federation President and CEO Matthew Shay. "After a long summer, the arrival of fall will put millions of Americans in the spirit to partake in traditional and festive activities. Retailers recognize that when it comes to Halloween, consumers' creativity abounds. We expect retailers to stock their shelves with unique costume ideas for adults, children and pets, a variety of candy options and never-seen-before home and yard décor."

National chain stores such as Halloween City seem to find empty strip mall spaces throughout the Salt Lake Valley where they sell costumes, makeup and yard and home decorations. They cater to customers such as Sadie Magera, who said she loves Halloween and is not a big fan of Christmas.

"I've gone to three shops since October," she said as she walked out of a Taylorsville Halloween store. "I mostly like looking around at costumes. I am still working on my choice."

Local companies such as Mask Costumes, which has two stores in Salt Lake County that are open year-round, must compete with the chains. That is not always easy.

"We compete by having unique things instead of the same things you see everywhere," said Remy Guanajuato of Mask Costumes' Taylorsville store.

He said Halloween is the biggest holiday of the year for his company and that is especially true the closer to Oct. 31 customers get.

Guanajuato said big sellers this year include masquerade masks and morph suits, a sort of single color body suit worn by the Blue Man Group or by the Green Team at University of Utah football games. Theatrical makeup is also a big seller for the company, which also rents costumes.

The Blue Boutique's Collins said nurse, Army and witch costumes seem to be the most popular, though masks are doing quite well this year as well.

Shane Atkin, director of retail operations for Salt Lake City's Modern Display, said Halloween is second only to Christmas for his store's sales. And his family-friendly company doesn't sell costumes other than hats or some of the gory house decorations seen at some of the chains.

He said tree branches decorated with small orange lights and witch's hats for men and women are big sellers so far this season.

Nationally, the federation survey said consumers will spend $2.6 billion on costumes for people, $330 million for pet costumes, $2.08 billion on candy, $260 million on greeting cards and $1.96 billion on decorations.

The federation said ¼ of U.S. consumers say the state of the economy will impact their Halloween spending plans and nearly nine in 10 will spend less overall this year.

With grocery store aisles filled with candy, farmers letting kids pick pumpkins out of patches and haunted houses proliferating along the Wasatch Front, it's obvious that Halloween is not only fun but has turned into big business.

wharton@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tribtomwharton