Over the past 10 years, spending on Halloween has doubled to £470m, making it a larger event for independent retailers than Easter. Joseph Lee finds out five ways you can make more from Halloween and Bonfire Night.

Stock the right lines

Now is the time for sugar confectionery to shine. Fifty-five per cent of all sales take place in the Halloween period, as shoppers stock up for trick or treaters, as well as themselves.

You should make sure that you bolster your range and make them unmissable to boost impulse buys.

Mark Roberts, trade marketing manager at Perfetti Van Melle, says in addition to impulse purchases, during this time period, the category also benefits from a surge in planned sales.

“Shoppers will be actively stocking up for trick or treaters and fancy dress parties, as well as looking for gifts and centrepieces,” he explains.

It is important to stock a broad range that appeals to all of the different shopper missions and it is crucial to focus on lines that offer great value.

A large number of sales are focused on the impulsive £1 price point, including 20% of the top 10 branded lines and 74% of the top 15 lines.

Individually-wrapped confectionery is also a key consideration as 40% of the top 15 lines are portion-controlled, perfect for trick-or-treaters.

Paul Siviter, Hancocks’ sales & marketing director, advises retailers to change their stock as the season approaches.

“Convenience stores should put emphasis on small impulse lines early into the Halloween period as these are a fantastic way to boost sales in the run up to the event,” he says.
“They should then move into stocking larger pack formats as October 31 approaches because these are a must stock for trick-or-treaters and are ideal for parties.”

Although sugar confectionery is at the forefront, retailers shouldn’t ignore chocolate. Cadbury’s Ghooost Egg was last year’s biggest-selling impulse line with £600,000 of sales, while the brand’s Crunchy Spider was number three.

Don’t forget older Halloween partygoers, either. One in five 18 to 34-year-olds attended a Halloween party last year.

Shaun Heyes, channel director for UK & Western Europe at Treasury Wine Estates, says that while young women disproportionately buy chocolate and confectionery at Halloween, young men are stocking up with alcohol.

Win with themed displays

There are signs that retailers are scaling down their themed displays and buying in less seasonal stock.

“Seasonal stock isn’t always 100% successful, and if it’s not sold quickly it can end up costing more than expected,” says Perfetti van Melle’s Mark Roberts.

Last year there was a 7.6% decline in the space for seasonal branded lines in major retailers, which presents an opportunity for independent stores that promote it better than their competition.

“This year, we’ve widened our offering to ensure we’re catering to both retailers who love novelty products, and also those who will still see a surge in sugar confectionery sales, but who may have less space, or want their products to have a longer shelf-life,” Roberts adds.

But even if the products aren’t always themed, in-store theatre can still generate excitement about the event.

“It is important for retailers to start preparing their Halloween displays from the beginning of October to build up momentum,” says Simon Harrison, operational marketing director at Coca-Cola European Partners.

“Decorations can be placed around the store to remind busy consumers to save the date in their social calendars, and potentially plan their own party to celebrate.”

You should make sure you kick start the season with a tempting display of impulse treats at the counter before putting up the main display. Bep Dhaliwal, Mars Chocolate trade communications manager, says: “From late September, people will be thinking about how to celebrate Halloween and Bonfire Night, so retailers should create displays to add excitement.”

Run events

Events are a great way to generate excitement and drive sales. With pumpkins proving a big seasonal seller, retailers have had success in engaging customers with competitions such as the best
carved pumpkin.

Everyone loves spooky costumes – sales were up 4% last year to £20.8m – so getting staff to join in with their own Halloween outfits on nearer the day itself can help make your store a destination for seasonal shoppers.

“Halloween offers an opportunity for retailers to bring their stores to life by creating eye-catching themed displays surrounding the event,” says CCEP’s Simon Harrison. “Retailers should consider using costumes and props to highlight bestselling products, and to inspire consumers to stock up ahead of their event.”

With two seasonal events close together, suppliers say there’s scope for combining them into a single, bigger celebration, and Christian Sarginson, brand controller at Global Brands, says it can be taken even further.

“Many are suggesting  there’s potential for store owners to make more of Halloween, Bonfire Night and the Mexican Day of the Dead, by turning the days surrounding these festivals into one, long celebration,” he says.

Global Brands has produced themed packs of Amigos beer to help celebrate the Day of the Dead, which runs from Halloween to November 2.

Sell fireworks responsibly

No Bonfire Night is complete without fireworks and they’re increasingly part of Halloween celebrations too. But you need to ensure you’re being responsible and compliant with the law.

“Although fireworks are intended for entertainment, it’s important to remember they are explosives and can result in horrific injuries if the correct precautions aren’t followed,” says Tony Allen, managing director of Under Age Sales.

All retailers must obtain a licence from the Explosives Licensing Authority – usually your local council or fire service.

Then you need to keep a record of your fireworks supply chain for 10 years, following regulations introduced in 2015.

Without an all-year round licence, most retailers can only begin selling fireworks at a minute past midnight on October 15 and must take them off sale before midnight on November 10.

Checking ages is crucial. It is illegal to sell fireworks to under-18s. Anyone over 16 can buy category F1 fireworks, however, such as cracker snaps, indoor fireworks, novelty matches and party poppers.

Lastly, retailers are required to display the right signage, with these words printed at a minimum size within the store:

It is illegal to sell category F2 fireworks or category F3 fireworks to anyone under the age of 18.

It is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to possess category F2 fireworks or category F3 fireworks in a public place.

“The law is there to protect young people and communities – and it’s the retailer’s responsibility to ensure fireworks don’t end up in the wrong hands,” Allen says.

Top Halloween Tips

1.Make sure you are stocking Halloween lines that appeal to shoppers of all ages.

2.Stock £1 sugar confectionery lines as these are hugely popular for parties and trick-or-treaters.

3.Drive sales ahead of October 31 with impulse confectionery lines.

4.Create a themed display with costumes, confectionery and pumpkins.

5.Encourage your staff to dress up on the day to bring the fun to your shop.