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Halloween is a major event for us. We see a big spike in sales, which starts building several days before Halloween itself. We’ve got a big bakery section and it definitely contributes to the in-store theatre. Not everything sells – we tried cupcakes a few years ago, for example, and they didn’t sell well at all because they were a bit expensive when you can buy Mr Kipling’s Halloween-themed boxes for around £1. But we’ll do novelty pumpkin-themed cakes, gingerbread ghosts, fairy cakes and so on, using transfers to apply spidery or witchy decorations. We need to get the bakery range out early because it will start selling a week beforehand; then closer to the day all our staff dress up and the whole store gets into the Halloween theme, even our Subway franchise.
We draw up a plan to cover every major event throughout the year and change our in-store theatre every six weeks. For Halloween I have found including a balloon ghost in my display – a balloon covered in a sheet suspended above the display – is a great way to decorate the store and create theatre. I also put a few spiders’ webs and other decorations around the shop, but I am careful not to overdo it so the focus is kept on the two Halloween promotional ends. This theatre has definitely increased our seasonal sales and we have had great feedback from customers who had said they love the displays.
Halloween is a shorter season so we don’t go overboard like we might with our Christmas confectionery. We stock a few more children’s sugar confectionery products, especially those with a Halloween theme like Haribo, as well as multipacks of small chocolate bars like Freddo’s. Kids buy them, but just as often it’s the older generation stocking up so they’ve got sweets to dish out for trick ‘n’ treaters. Halloween products are simple to merchandise and promote: we put dump bins of particular lines in strategic positions, by the doors and beside the tills. The ranging is straight-forward. People aren’t looking for anything premium or special – it’s not like Christmas when people tend to browse. By doing this, our sweets sales definitely increase.
We always the get the community involved in the store at Halloween with lots of little activities. All the staff get dressed up and we’ll have a competition for the scariest costume. We’ll give away free chocolate bars to kids in fancy dress and have other little competitions too, it changes every year. I advertise the activities on our Facebook page and it definitely brings people into the store. For me it’s less about sales and more about building relationships with customers and the community. There’s obviously a massive opportunity for sales too, and I’m a firm believer that if you build a good rapport with local people then the sales will come through that.
For the full feature, including a list of new products for Halloween 2016, see the 9 September issue of Retail Newsagent or subscribe here.
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