Remember a time when Halloween was simple? Those days are over. For category managers, the huge opportunity (over $9 billion expected in sales this year) presents a daunting array of products and strategies to consider.

Second only to Christmas in dollars spent, Halloween continues to grow. This year, consumers are expected to spend $3.4 billion on costumes, $2.7 billion on candy, $2.7 billion on decorations, and $410 million on greeting cards. Greeting cards? We have to assume this includes party invitations.

Some retailers that are doing fright right.


It starts with Target’s Hyde and Eek boutique on their website. Like their stores, Target’s Halloween landing page is clean, uncluttered and upscale. Target presents three different home decorating themes. When you click one, you’ll find home décor items that that go together. Coordinated Halloween décor? Who knew! Plus, Target’s product page offers a unique user experience. When you move your cursor over an individual product, it shows how the product might look in an actual home setting.

The lesson for category managers is always keep your core customers in mind even if it’s just a seasonal promotion. Target is a discounter, but its success is based on appealing to customers from middle to upper income brackets. Coordinated Halloween decorating themes in upscale settings likely hits home with these customers. Target understands their target audience. No bones about it.

Party City

Party City has capitalized on the Halloween opportunity by adding pop-up locations to augment sales at their regular stores. Pop up stores are especially popular with Millennials and because so many brick and mortar stores have closed, there are plenty of good locations and great deals.

If you visit Party City’s website, you’ll find they’ve taken the lifestyle theme to another level with 13 “house illusions”. Each includes the suggested scene, a paragraph describing how it works and a complete list of items needed.

It’s also interesting to look at “Customers Also Bought” sections on Halloween sites. E.g. on Party City’s website, when you click on the “Animated Possessed Doll” and scroll down you’ll find even more creepy ideas such as: Animated Terror Clown, Light-Up Mourning Zombie Baby with Sound Effects, Light-Up Bonnet Baby with Sound Effects, etc.


Amazon is expected to grab the largest share of Halloween related purchases. Not surprisingly, their Halloween store is easy to navigate with the key categories at the top. Then featured essentials, costumes sorted by genre so you can quickly scan options you’re interested in. It also has Halloween toys (unusual) and a banner link to “Halloween for Teens.” Plus, Amazon offers safe treats that are free of the top 8 allergens: peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, milk, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish. Even with Halloween, it seems Amazon offers everything from A to Z.

Grandin Road

While some furniture e retailers dabble in Halloween décor, Grandin Road offers 17 pages of higher end décor you simply won’t find anywhere else. Grandin Road’s innovative thinking was further evidenced when they tried inserting pop up Halloween stores in Macy’s two years ago.

Get Social

Pinterest is a favorite go-to site for costume ideas. In fact, 27 million Pinterest users pinned Halloween content last year. 17% of all costume buyers used Pinterest for ideas, up 133% since 2012. So? Well, Millennials are in their prime Halloween costume buying years and they are heavily influenced by peer recommendations.

Finally, remember Halloween is $9 billion opportunity! Start planning now for next year. Do your homework. Find out what others are doing. Get creative. Don’t be afraid to think outside the coffin. Take a stab at something different. As long as you give it your best shot, no one will say boo.

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