Halloween on a Friday is spooky good for retailers

By Yinmeng Liu

Fake blood drips off a grisly-looking mask at the Halloween Store in the Chicago Loop
Fake blood drips off a grisly-looking mask at the Halloween Store in the Chicago Loop

It’s Wednesday afternoon but things are just warming up in the makeshift costume store in Chicago’s Loop. A line of shoppers clutch plastic bags of costumes, chat and gesture animatedly as they wait to check out. Store clerks, some wearing rainbow-colored wings, flutter about the store. A customer snatches a grizzly mask from the rack and soundlessly sneaks up on a friend.

It’s turning out to be a spooky good holiday for the Halloween Store on East Adams Street. The fact that the holiday fell on Friday this year has fueled sales, said Marty Aver, the store’s manager.

“It definitely affects the amount of money you make on Halloween by the day of the month that it falls on,” Aver said. “So if it falls on a Friday, it’s going to be considerably higher than if it fell on a Tuesday, as much as 30 to 35 percent more.”

The National Retail Federation estimates that Americans will spend a whopping $7.4 billion this Halloween, 5.7 percent higher than last year’s $7.0 billion. Of that amount, $2.8 billion, or 37.8 percent, will go to costume purchases.

“There’s no question that the variety of adult, child and even pet costumes now available has driven the demand and popularity of Halloween among consumers of all ages,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said.

The trade group predicts that people will splurge $1.4 billion on adult costumes, while coughing up $1.1 billion on children’s costumes and $350 million on pet outfits.

Aver said the bulk of his profit during Halloween comes from costume sales, even though his business centers around sales of accessories. Pop culture icons are among the top choices for costumes.

Besides costumes, sales of other merchandise are expected to advance as well. According to NRF, handing out candies is Americans’ favorite way to celebrate Halloween, with 71.1 percent participants. NRF expects Americans will be dishing out $2.2 billion on candies this year while spending $2 billion on decorations for their front lawns and doorsteps.

NRF also projected 54 million Americans will have or attend a Halloween party, while 33 million will venture into a haunted house.

Halloween is the first of four major U.S. holidays, providing the first solid indication of how strong the major Christmas selling season will be. Retailers typically generate 25 to 30 percent of their annual revenue in the November-December period.