Spooky Spending – The Retail Impact of Halloween

20 Sep,2019

[lead]As the leaves crisp and a certain chill develops in the air – it’s evident that Autumn is certainly on its way, as well as some of the biggest retail events of the year.[/lead]

Each year, Halloween seems to increase in popularity. According to last years stats, over half of us took part in Halloween festivities; a whopping 75.4% of that was spent on food like confectionary and obviously, pumpkins.

Named as the third biggest retail event of the year, there are a number of areas in which retailers prepare for in order to fully take advantage of this busy time. We’re taking a look at what exactly happens as Halloween possesses our favourite grocers, so you too can make sure you’re getting in on all the spooky fun.

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But First, A Little History

So how did this industry boosting holiday become an annual holiday and a favourite amongst the masses?

Halloween dates back to the Celtic era, where it was believed that on Oct 31st/November 1st boundaries between the world of the living and the dead were blurred; allowing demons and ghouls to infiltrate crops and the harvest. Rituals that involved sacrifices and dressing up in animalistic costumes would take place in order to bring good luck amongst the dark winter months to come. All of these practices, including ones that were brought over by the Romans during their invasion, have made Halloween what it is today.

As we travelled into the new century, Halloween became less about rituals, religion and superstition, and more about children having a grand old time celebrating everything that is spooky.

halloween candy pinata tactical solutions

Frightful Food

Looking at its history, food has always been an integral part of Halloween. Today, parts of the Halloween fun not only involves seasonal vegetables but sweets – and lots of them.

So, with confectionary sales going up by 20%, how do retailers cater to this growing need for something sweet? We usually see advertisements and marketing for Halloween around mid-September, and this often includes promotions, sales and new products on the shelves. Many sweets and candies are marketed at a reduced price, and commonly sold with specialised Halloween packaging and in multipacks.

Multipacks serve well, particularly during this holiday, as many consumers will want to spend little money for a large amount to quickly and conveniently tick off their Halloween checklist. This is wildly helped by the before mentioned specialised Halloween marketing which not only appeals to adults buying for the occasion but children taking part in the festivities. Appealing to children is vital in this sense, as they make up the majority of those taking part in Halloween, with 58% of 4 to 9 year-olds joining in 2018.

In summary, marketing and promotions adhered to the event as well as the recognised audience plays a big part in making sure your sales are continuing to reflect the time of year.

Here are some examples of what popular retailer Asda has in stock already;

swizzels scary mix tactical 2 e1568966908566
Image Retrieved from Asda


swizzels sweets pack tactical 2 e1568966988711

Image Retrieved from Asda


trick treat mcvities multipack asda e1568907697425

Image Retrieved from Asda

Creepy Costumes

Now, it wouldn’t be Halloween without a good costume. In 2018,  consumers spent a whopping £367million on Halloween, a third of that going on dressing up.

Much like how Halloween sweets are marketed, costumes are quintessentially Halloweeny at relatively cheap prices. As a holiday relatively directed at children, costumes have to be cheap, cheerful and robust in order to survive – much like the school uniforms explored in our Back to School blog post. Grocers will be doing all they can to cater to their target audience, meaning we will again be seeing multipacks at cheap prices that can be quickly bought and put into effect.

As one of the busiest events of the year for under 18’s, it also has to be appropriate. Looking back at the spooky beginnings of Halloween, it’s apparent that today’s cute ghosts and goofy monsters are quite far from it. Marketing, in-store displays and promotional graphics have to remain not too spooky and importantly appropriate to ensure happy parents and returning sales.

Here are some costumes by some retailers that evidently display these tactics;

sainsburys unicorn costume tactical

Image Retrieved from Sainsbury’s


harry potter costume asda tactical
Image Retrieved from Asda


halloween costume tactical ghost busters 1

Images Retrieved from Asda

Demonic Drink

Although we’ve been reiterating how this a holiday directed at the kids, there are few fluxes in sales that reflect how adults are not afraid to get into the scary goings-on. Last year, over 70% of parents stated that they were going to be enjoying the festivities and in recent years, the sale of adult Halloween costumes are at an all-time high. And that’s not the only product that reflects more adults joining in with the fun.

Some have named Halloween one of the biggest drinking holidays of the year, especially for those aged between 20 to 24. Strategies in which ensure drink sales mirror this busy season, don’t stray too far away from how other Halloween products are marketed. Using particularly spooky images and references to the season is a simple and surefire way to make sure a certain product, like alcohol, performs well.

cinnamon autumn drink orange halloween

We see many grocers also adapting their online shop to adhere to the scary season, which also includes Halloween party ideas and cocktail recipes to further appeal to the fun-loving adults.

Halloween 2016, we saw Asda showing us some fun and spooky cocktail recipes.

One Halloween, Tesco showed us 10 fun Halloween themed cocktails to spice up any party.

Sainsbury’s gave their customers a whole party pack – informing us on adult-friendly recipes to throw the best Halloween shindig.

Please drink responsibly.

What can Tactical Do?

Using our bespoke software, the teams at Tactical will help your brand or store strategically market products to make sure you are fully reaping the benefits of this spooky holiday which is proving to be one of the year’s biggest. We can monitor product performance through our bespoke software Reapp, as well as make sure products are available, visible & compliant for your in-store promotions – we can even build discretionary extra displays to help increase those sales even further.