POP-UP SHOPS: Halloween pop-up shops opened throughout the country. Pictured is the Spirit Halloween store on La Brea and Melrose avenues in Los Angeles.

POP-UP SHOPS: Halloween pop-up shops opened throughout the country. Pictured is the Spirit Halloween store on La Brea and Melrose avenues in Los Angeles.


Halloween: Not Scary for Retailers

Despite a flat forecast, Halloween sales are forecast to scare up $2.6 billion for American retailers.

Witches are out, pinup girls are in.

It might as well be the slogan for Halloween 2013. For years, kids and adults have planned to dress up like goblins, Marilyn Monroe or a superhero for the spooky holiday, which falls on Oct. 31. It’s a trend not lost on retailers. “It’s an extremely important consumer holiday,” said Matias Cavallin, a spokesman for Target Corp.

According to the retail trade group National Retail Federation, American retailers are forecast to ring up $2.6 billion in Halloween costuming this year.

This year’s celebrations are expected to fall short of the high in 2012, when 170 million Americans participated in a Halloween activity, but the NRF still predicts that about half of the nation’s population—158 million Americans—will do something to celebrate. The average Halloween reveler is forecast to spend $75.03 on costumes, candy and holiday décor, down from $79.82 spent on average in 2012.

Retailers across the board are already putting up their Halloween displays. Spirit Halloween pop-up shops, operated by New Jersey–based retailer Spencer’s Gifts LLC, have opened 1,050 Halloween shops across the nation. As with most every year, a significant amount of store space at national mall retailer Hot Topic, headquartered in City of Industry, Calif., is devoted to Halloween items. These include sweaters just like the one worn by horror movie villain Freddy Krueger as well as Supergirl and Wonder Woman bustiers. Frederick’s of Hollywood Inc. recently introduced its annual Halloween capsule Masquerade Collection. The seasonal collection offers corset looks such as Little Bo Peep and Alice in Wonderland, as well as pieces that consumers can mix and match.

Among its holiday merchandise, Target introduced Chris March’s Big Fun line of Halloween wigs designed by Chris March, a “Project Runway”contestant, Cavallin said. “The trend is DYI [do-it-yourself] Halloween costumes,” he noted. With DIY costumes, people are increasingly picking up wigs and masks to make their own Halloween looks along with pre-packaged costumes.

At Burbank, Calif.–based retailer Unique Vintage, Halloween is one of the most important seasons, after prom and homecoming season, when the retailer sells 400 to 700 dresses daily. Robin Doyle, a Unique Vintage representative, said that costumes are heavily influenced by what is popular on television. “Someone always wants to be Marilyn Monroe or Lucille Ball. But I will say ever since ‘Mad Men’ and ‘Boardwalk Empire’ started airing on TV, we’ve definitely seen a big jump in those costume genres,” she said.

Unique Vintage, which specializes in retro looks, typically adds a salesperson during October to help with the increase of Halloween demand, and the Burbank retailer typically starts planning what Halloween looks to merchandise during summer.

Larger retailers usually start thinking about fright-wig fashion and what spooky décor to stock on store shelves in December and January, almost 10 months before Halloween, said Jeff Yunis, the owner of Specialty Trade Shows, a Miami, Fla.–based producer of fashion trade shows.

The planning often culminates at trade shows such as the Halloween & Party Expo, which will be held in Houston Jan. 25–28, 2014, and the Las Vegas Halloween Show, which is scheduled for March 31–April 2 in Las Vegas. More than 1,000 stores from 25 countries shop at the show, which is devoted to lingerie with a Halloween angle.

A significant part of Halloween trade shows and costuming is devoted to lingerie, Yunis said. “For lingerie stores, it’s bigger than Christmas,” he said.

For Ellen Sepulveda, owner of the Risqué lingerie boutique in Pasadena, Calif., Halloween and Valentine’s Day are the two biggest holidays on the calendar. For Halloween, her customers are interested in creating their own look. “They come in for accessories—gloves, petticoats, stockings, boas and bustiers—and they make them into costumes.”

The shopping has only started for Halloween, Sepulveda said. “Everyone waits until the last minute for every holiday,” she added.


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