More than $3 billion in online sales is up for grabs for the Halloween shopping season, Internet Retailer estimates. And that could grow to nearly $3.5 billion, if online Halloween sales grow at the same rate as e-commerce’s current growth rate, which Internet Retailer estimates is more than 15%.
Shoppers spent $3.076 billion online on Halloween-related goods including costumes, candy and fall décor from Oct. 1-31, 2017, according to exclusive Internet Retailer research featured in the just-released 2018 Online Peak Seasons Report. The report analyzes five major shopping holidays and their online sales.
Halloween is high stakes for niche players in this category. For web-only retailer CostumeSuperCenter.com, Halloween rakes in 70% of its sales for the year, says CEO Erik Mandell.
The web-only retailer also operates BirthdayinaBox.com, and between both sites, Halloween is still about 50% of its business, he says.
Because it is such a peak period, CostumeSuperCenter.com begins preparing for Halloween during the previous August, about 14 months before the holiday, Mandell says. This is when the retailer reviews its merchandise and decides if it wants to discontinue a style or if there will be any new popular characters, such as a Disney Princess.
Traffic and sales for CostumeSuperCenter.com start to increase at the end of August as consumers scope out their Halloween costume. August makes up about 5% of its Halloween-related sales, with September bringing 25-30% and October bringing in the remaining share, Mandell says. Sales for Halloween peak during the 10-day stretch Oct. 10-20, with Oct. 15 as roughly the high point.
Web traffic follows a similar pattern to sales, according to data from web measurement firm SimilarWeb. In August 2017, traffic to CostumeSuperCenter.com increased 31% over July, before rocketing up 176% in September with more than 382,500 visits over August’s 138,700 visits. Traffic to the site hit its peak in October with 758,300 visits, which is a 247% increase over its monthly average of 218,540, according to SimilarWeb Ltd.
Many niche Halloween retailers also had large traffic spikes in October 2017, compared with the rest of the year. Here’s a look at five key Halloween retailers’ traffic in October:
One shadow that looms over niche costume retailers’ peak Halloween season is Amazon.com Inc. The web giant is chipping—or chopping—into sales in every category, and costumes are no exception. Particularly later in the season when procrastinating shoppers need a costume quick, consumers know Amazon (No. 1 in the Internet Retailer 2018 Top 500) can delivery quickly.
CostumeSuperCenter.com sees this play out on its e-commerce site, although not in the worst way. Over the years, Mandell has noticed that consumers are waiting to buy closer to Halloween, as many shoppers are willing to pay for two-day shipping close to Halloween, he says.
Looking at traffic patterns, web visits to Halloween retailers slows after Oct. 24, while Amazon’s traffic spikes around this time, according to SimilarWeb data. Internet Retailer estimates that a portion of this bump in Amazon’s October traffic can be attributed to Halloween sales, especially when looking at its increase in costume purchases as a percent of overall site visitors.
Still, online retailers have the opportunity to generate as much sales as they can during this month. Online was the most common place shoppers say they will look this year for costume inspiration, at 35% of consumers, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual Halloween spending survey of nearly 7,000 consumers in September 2018. In addition, 24% of consumers say they will buy a costume or other Halloween supplies online. Discount stores were the most popular choice at 45%, according to the survey.
Plus, of the holidays Internet Retailer analyzed in the Peak Season report, Halloween has the highest e-commerce penetration, as 33.8% of Halloween-related sales were made online in 2017, according to Internet Retailer.
The just-launched 2018 Online Peak Seasons Report is available to Digital Commerce 360 Gold and Platinum members as part of their paid memberships. Single-copy sales are available for $249. This 71-page downloadable PDF report features online shopping data, trends and analysis for five holiday season including Halloween, Christmas and Hanukkah, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and back-to-school season.