Forecast brews up uncertain Halloween for retailers

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Forecast brews up uncertain Halloween for retailers

By Marianne Wilson - 09/11/2020

Consumers are skeptical about trick-or-treating.

Most shoppers (73%) expect to celebrate the holiday differently this year, according to data from Numerator, which fielded a survey to over 2,000 consumers. Over half (52%) of shoppers say they will buy less candy this Halloween than they did last year. 

At least one in three (37%) expect to buy the same amount, and 11% think they will buy more. 

Some areas, including Los Angeles County, have already banned trick-or-treating, Halloween parties, carnivals and haunted houses in order to curb the spread of COVID-19. But even if most cities and counties avoid a formal ban on trick-or-treating, it is unlikely consumers will participate to the same extent as years past, the survey found. When asked if anyone in their household participated in trick-or-treating last year— either handing out treats or going door-to-door— 66% said yes. This year, only 25% said they planned to participate, with another 32% still unsure. Forty-three percent said they would not be participating this year.

While trick-or-treating may be on the chopping block, candy will still be a must this Halloween. While the  number of households planning to purchase Halloween candy and snacks to distribute is down significantly this year versus last, those intending to purchase for household consumption is up, likely to compensate for missed trick-or-treating opportunities. 

“Brands and retailers should keep this shift in mind when advertising and promoting their Halloween treats – an appeal to family indulgences will be more fitting than stocking up on treats to share,” Numerator advised. 

Given the public and communal nature of most Halloween celebrations, it’s no surprise that nearly three in four consumers (73%) expect to celebrate the holiday differently this year. In a time when most are being asked to stay home and limit social interactions, a holiday marked by door-to-door visits for treats may not feel right to many families.

Even if most cities and counties avoid a formal ban on trick-or-treating, it is unlikely consumers will participate to the same extent as years past, underscoring the expected decline in candy sales. When asked if anyone in their household participated in trick-or-treating last year— either handing out treats or going door-to-door— 66% said yes. This year, only 25% said they planned to participate, with another 32% still unsure. 43% said they would not be participating this year.

Halloween candy will still be purchased for household consumption.

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