Americans are celebrating Halloween at pre-COVID levels this year, and retailers are looking to take advantage. They’re updating merchandise, marketing and fulfillment strategies to meet consumer demand this year.
Retailers unveil new Halloween merchandise
Three retailers told Digital Commerce 360 they’ve grown Halloween merchandise offerings in 2023. The Home Depot Inc. has seen an increase in demand for giant items since the success of the 12-foot-tall giant skeleton, which it launched in 2020, says Lance Allen, senior merchant of decorative holiday at Home Depot. To capitalize on the trend, Home Depot introduced its “Dead Water” collection this year with a $349, 12.5-foot-tall animated predator of the night and a $399, 13-foot-tall animated Jack Skellington. Home Depot ranks no. 4 in The Top 1000, Digital Commerce 360’s ranking of the largest online retailers in North America.
Fun.com, which owns HalloweenCostumes.com, says giant decor items are also selling well this year. 25-foot-tall Michael Myers and Stay Puft inflatables are “flying off the shelves,” says Mark Bietz, chief marketing officer at Fun.com.
Though not necessarily new, alien costumes have been a surprise hit this year, Bietz says. Alien costumes sales are up 75% over the same period in 2022, which he attributes to recent news about investigations into aliens.
Lingerie brand Adore Me is leaning into Halloween merchandise this year in a way it hasn’t done in the past, vice president of strategy Ranjan Roy says. Previously, the retailer had success with products that could work double for Halloween and other occasions, like a sheer bra with black cats, which is also the retailer’s best-selling Halloween product this year. In 2023, Adore Me launched costumes for the first time, including devil and angel body suits.
Social media dominates Halloween marketing
Adore Me is using influencers and social media marketing to build off its Halloween campaign from last year, Roy says. In 2022, it ran a campaign about how to turn lingerie into a Halloween costume, before selling actual costumes in 2023. This year, Adore Me hosted an influencer event with content creators making costumes out of Adore Me’s offerings.
Adore Me is also using digital, out-of-home advertising like advertisements on subways and billboards ahead of Halloween, Roy says. This is the second campaign like this the retailer has done, along with Valentine’s Day 2023. The retailer plans to continue investing in this type of advertising.
“It kind of bridges the gap between a digitally native company like us with traditional out-of-home advertising,” he says.
Fun.com and Home Depot both use social media to show off Halloween offerings, the retailers said.
“One of the biggest changes we’ve made this year is with short-form video. We are producing and deploying more video than we ever have in the past,” Fun.com’s Bietz says. “It’s been amazing to see how customers have responded to having more rich experiences with our brand. As we create more, our customers are also giving back with videos of their own that we are pleased to feature and share on our websites and social platforms.”
He pointed to TikTok videos demonstrating the scale of giant decor items.
@halloweencostumes.com Battle of the giants! Michael Myers vs. Stay Puft, who would win? #25ft #codeorange #inflatabledecor #michaelmyers #staypuft #halloweendecor ♬ original sound – Leovincem
Connected TV ads have also driven “excellent results” for HalloweenCostumes.com so far this year after investment last year, Bietz says.
Retailers offer new fulfillment options
Getting purchases to customers ahead of the holiday they’re intended for is key. That’s less of an issue this year, Adore Me’s Roy says.
“This is actually the first year since pre-COVID where [fulfillment] is not glaringly top of mind,” he says.
With fulfillment less of a problem this year, retailers are focused on giving consumers more options and speeding up delivery. Fun.com opened a new fulfillment center in Kentucky to relieve its other facility in Minnesota that was maxing out capacity.
“This has also greatly improved our customer experience, as we can deliver much faster to more of our base,” Bietz says.
Walmart recently expanded its fulfillment services for third-party sellers to include big and bulky items, a spokesperson said. The big-box retailer also has a variety of other fulfillment options, including late-night express delivery and pick-up options ready between 30 and 90 minutes.
Walgreens also has 30-minute pickup, one-hour delivery, and 24-hour delivery, a spokesperson says. Walmart and Walgreens rank No. 2 and No. 19, respectively, in the Top 1000.
Reports of consumer demand are mixed
The National Retail Federation projects U.S. consumers will spend $12.2 billion on Halloween this year, up from $10.6 billion in 2022. Much of the increase in spending can be attributed to higher prices, particularly for candy, Neil Saunders, managing director at retail analysis firm Global Data, previously told Digital Commerce 360.
Fun.com’s Bietz says overall demand is softer this year, but the online retailer is growing sales by offering new products. New merchandise and marketing plans are paying off, he says.
Adore Me is having a bigger Halloween season than in the past, Roy says. In the first half of October, which is the retailer’s peak Halloween buying season, Halloween sales were up 21% over the same period in 2022.
Peter Lucas contributed to this story.
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