Halloween is the third-biggest event for convenience retailers. Here, Toby Hill reveals 10 shockingly good ways to take advantage of the occasion

1.  Make up displays of loose sweets

Ian Handley
Handley’s News and Convenience Store,
Northwich

In the run-up to Halloween, we buy loose Halloween-themed sweets and make them up into £1 and £2 bags. There’s a little extra labour involved compared to buying Haribo, but we get 40% or 45% margins, and the staff do it when they have a quiet moment. We source some through our wholesaler, Parfetts, and we also buy some specialist lines from Hancocks, who have an outlet in Manchester. I’m on their email list so can see new products and offers before going in.

2. Add seasonal goodies

Robert Madden
Costcutter R & D Madden,
Chorltoncum-Hardy

Our bestsellers are less the costumes and accessories and more autumnal treats such as treacle toffee and toffee apples, as well as pumpkins. We get pumpkins through Costcutter and arrange them at the front of the store. Then we sell the treacle toffee and toffee apples nearer the day itself through to bonfire night, so we get them from the cash and carry in Manchester. We buy them loose, then bag them up and sell them from the counter for impulse sales.

3. Put on a party

Julie Atkinson
Hollins Green Community Store,
Warrington

Mr-Kipling.pngOn Halloween night, we do a little party for the children before they go out trick-or-treating. It provides a base for them, where they can start their Halloween night and come back to at the end. The staff dress up and get involved, and we do a barbecue for the parents, who can sit and eat at the tables while the kids go round the village. It gets us involved in the local community, and we’ve got great feedback about it.

4. Decorate the store

Julie Atkinson
Hollins Green Community Store,
Warrington

About a week before Halloween, I’ll go to the shops to buy props to decorate the store. I use fairy lights, which we hang from the front of the store and work well as the nights start to get darker. I also buy Halloween-themed figures, creatures and cobwebs, which we dangle from the ceiling and perch on the shelves. It’s nothing too scary – not blood and guts everywhere – but enough that people can see from outside that we have something going on.

5. Play games with the children

Julie Atkinson
Hollins Green Community Store,
Warrington

Maoam-stripes.pngAs part of our Halloween party, we’ll have games for the children to play in store. I draw a picture of a witch and they have to pin the nose on her face, we have a lucky dip with funny-feeling things in it, such as sweets in jelly, and we hang a washing line with apples dangling from it. We have little 20p bags of sweets as prizes, which we give to the kids even if they don’t win. They love the old-fashioned games.

6. Use PoS and shelf-edge labels

Ian Handley
Handley’s News and Convenience Store,
Northwich

We don’t have a lot of space in our store for big displays, but there are still ways of adding atmosphere. One thing we use is shelf-edge label strips, in orange and black, with webs and witches on them. We pick them up from a stationery wholesaler, so it’s a little extra expense, but we can use them again and again. It grabs the eye, along with spider webbing strung across the shelves and the odd mask hanging off the end of the aisles.

7. Merchandise alcohol for grown-up parties

Georgina Rogers
Brand manager,
Casillero del Diablo

Echo-Falls.pngIn recent years, the double celebration of Halloween and Bonfire Night have become huge growth drivers for the beers, wines and spirits category in both convenience and major multiples. Recent figures suggest just over half of shoppers are planning to buy alcohol at Halloween, and this figure increases to 75% for Bonfire Night. As well as a huge array of in-store promotions and support materials, we have social media campaigns and competitions to drive awareness and cut through for the brand.

8. Offer bowls of individually wrapped sweets for trick or treaters

Andrew Ovens
Marketing manager,
Big Bear Confectionery

The sweets in our bags of Fox’s Glaciers are individually wrapped, making them perfect for trick-or-treat bowls. These could be placed at different points around the store to add theatre. This September sees the launch of Fox’s limited-edition Glacier Fruit & Spice, filled with warming autumnal flavours such as Honey & Lemon, Apple & Cinnamon and Orange & Ginger. With no artificial flavours or colours, they are popular with parents wanting to treat their kids.

9. Tie in with Bonfire Night

Steve Kelly
Channel director,
Premier Foods

A great way to extend and get more value out of the Halloween season is for retailers to look at stocking Bonfire Night-related products as well. Bonfire Night comes around so quickly after Halloween that retailers can get ahead of shopper demand by stocking themed products as an extension of their Halloween range. New products perfect for the Bonfire occasion include Mr Kipling Toffee Apple Slices and Cadbury Mini Bonfire Logs.

10. Build on manufacturers’ campaigns

Simon Harrison
Customer marketing director,
Coca-Cola European Partners

Halloween has taken off in the UK in recent years, becoming a key calendar moment for our target audience of young adult consumers. Last year, Fanta grew by 23% during Halloween. This year, we ran a flavour election for limited-edition Fanta flavours, which are joining the brand’s portfolio for Halloween, with Blood Orange Zero and Pink Grapefruit Zero voted the winners. We recommend that retailers include these new flavours in cross-category Halloween displays, to help drive shopper engagement and sales. 

10 Products to bring Halloween thrills and chills to your in-store theatre


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  1. Cadbury Pumpkin Patch Gateau
  2. Fanta Blood Orange Zero
  3. Cadbury Goo Heads Minis
  4. Haribo TangfasTricks
  5. Mr Kipling Toffee Apple Slices
  6. Aryzta’s Otis Halloween Muffin
  7. Chupa Chups Skull lollipop
  8. Fruittella Favourites Spooky Mix
  9. Cadbury Mini Bonfire Logs
  10. Fox’s Glacier Fruit & Spice