Small Business Owners Can Capitalize on Halloween Fun

October 21, 2016


Halloween is big business, and just how big may be an eye-opener. Take the annual survey by the National Retail Federation, which estimates Halloween sales. This year, the federation is estimating the total Halloween spending this year to reach $ 8.4 billion.

Here’s how that breaks down, according to the survey.

  • Costumes: Consumers are planning on spending a whopping $ 3.1 billion on costumes. Of those shopping for Halloween items, 67 percent will buy costumes, the survey says.
  • Candy: Trick-or-treating brings in big bucks, as $ 2.5 billion is expected to be spent on candy by 94.3 percent of Halloween shoppers.
  • Decorations: All those gravestones, skeletons and spider web decorations add up to an estimate of $ 2.4 billion, by 70 percent of shoppers.
  • Greeting cards: Some would say that Halloween isn’t even a typical greeting-card type of holiday, yet estimates are that they will bring in $ 390 million.

Here’s how federation president and CEO Matthew Shay describes it: “After a long summer, families are excited to welcome the fall season celebrating Halloween. Retailers are preparing for the day by offering a wide variety of options in costumes, decorations and candy, while being aggressive with their promotions to capture the most out of this shopping event.”

Small businesses can take advantage of the Halloween season to throw events, create sales opportunities and attract new customers. Here’s a look at several ways to do it.

Trick-or-Treat bags

Let’s start out with an easy one, which can be an opportunity for brand and logo recognition. Order trick-or-treat bags with the business logo prominently featured amid the Halloween imagery — plenty of printing businesses offer this kind of service — and watch kids and parents take interest. Annie Pilon recommends this in a story for “Just pass out the bags to customers in the weeks leading up to Halloween.”

Sales opportunities
A fun seasonal holiday can be a good way to get clever with sales events. In a story for Grasshopper, Kiera Abbamonte suggests gathering bundles of products and selling them at a discount. Her example is a grocery store packaging candy with a pumpkin carving kit and a plastic cauldron.

“Another idea takes a card from Chipotle’s deck — offer a discount to customers who come into your store in their costumes on Halloween day,” she writes. “You can also stay open later and offer a flash sale after midnight on Halloween night.”

Costume fun

There are many ways to incorporate costumes into a business’ Halloween approach. By getting employees and customers involved, it could create a buzz around the business, including through social media. As Rohit Arora writes for Forbes, “Workers like to use their creativity, and making Halloween a fun day at work can boost employee morale.”

“Encourage workers to post their Halloween pictures on social media, which will build awareness of your company among the friends and followers of your workers,” Arora explains. “This tactic can be extended to customers, who can be invited to post photos on a company’s Facebook page, for instance. Invite customers to tag themselves and incentivize them with prizes for the best costumes.”

Get creative online

One of the great things about Google is its frequently shifting homepage logo, which can fit an abundance of themes, historical events and seasonal twists. Adding a Halloween element to a business logo online can be a fun way to engage customers, as Abbamonte writes.

“Having a cool, themed logo also opens up the opportunity to give away Halloween swag,” she writes. “You can stick your spooky logo on tee shirts, trick-or-treat bags, or pretty much anything you want.”

Fall flavors

Pumpkin flavor has become a bit of a phenomenon, and has been added to all sorts of food and drink items, especially the coffeehouse variety. Besides the taste that appeals to many, it also typically coincides with the arrival of autumn, a welcomed change for those who experience brutal summers. In her story for, Pilon explains how this can be an October boost.

“Any business that sells food or drink, from bakeries to breweries, can potentially benefit from offering seasonal flavored items,” she writes. “Fall flavors like apple cinnamon and pumpkin are especially popular around Halloween. For example, Cigar City Brewing in Florida has built a loyal fan base for its Good Gourd pumpkin beer that it brews each fall.

Creative advertising

Beyond print or online advertisements for a Halloween sale, small business owners can aim for targeted television ads. If finances allow, and the opportunity is there with a local cable provider, there could be ways to get your message out amid the Halloween fun, as Rieva Lesonsky writes for the Small Business Administration.

“October is prime time for spooky, Halloween-themed programming that gets many people to tune in,” she writes. “If it’s in your budget, advertise on a horror series like American Horror Story or The Walking Dead, or during one of the many Halloween movie marathons found on cable this month.”

Work with other businesses

In the spirit of fun, small business owners can collaborate with neighboring businesses to create a festive atmosphere for kids, and perhaps impress parents with the efforts. This will likely take coordination and cooperation, along with an organized approach to make a seamless event.

“Partner up,” Lesonsky writes. “Join other local businesses in your community and host a trick-or-treat night or scavenger hunt for local children. As kids go from one business to another with parents or guardian in tow, you can hand the parents coupons or other discount offers.”

Throw a party

Depending on the type of business, Halloween may present an opportunity for creating a festive event that can capitalize on the season, impress current clients and attract new ones. Here’s how Lee Polevoi suggests approaching it in a story for Intuit.

“Invite clients, vendors, loyal customers, and prospects,” he writes. “You and your team can make valuable personal connections by taking part in traditional activities like pumpkin carving and a ‘scariest costume’ contest. Stock the premises with treats and marketing materials. Maybe even whip up a little house of horrors (complete with a scary soundtrack), where bats and skeletons leap out of the fog to spook fun-loving party-goers!”

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Author: David Kiger