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The Haunting Truth Behind the Business of Halloween

According to the National Retail Federation, only 58 percent of Americans celebrated Halloween in 2020. With a huge drop in Halloween spending, it is only normal for businesses to have extra pressure to do well this year. A post-pandemic Halloween has the capability to bring in great business. But how will businesses approach the post-pandemic market? 

Considering Americans are thirsty to go back to normalcy it can be suspected that businesses will not have to get too creative to attract business. Halloween represents the first big party holiday post-pandemic. The holiday of Halloween has seen consistent increases in overall sales. Forbes stated sales have almost doubled in the past 10 years from $4.8 billion to $8.8 billion. It is clear that demand is high for Halloween during normal times, so with Americans desperate to make up for lost time, this Halloween will be a huge opportunity for businesses.

One of the most obvious selling points of Halloween is costumes. The costume industry is a $3.32 billion industry, which is up 27 percent than it was in 2020. NRF states the average adult spends $102.74 on costumes for the holiday. While many Americans create DIY costumes, many buy premade costumes. A brand that has recently taken the costume business by storm has been Fashion Nova. According to WDD from an interview with Fashion Nova CEO in 2017 the privately-owned company grew by 600 percent. This is all due to the brand's huge success on social media.

The brand specifically succeeds on Instagram and YouTube. Influencers will typically shoot videos trying on various Fashion Nova costumes. The marketing strategy behind Fashion Nova sponsored videos is that they let potential customers get exposed to their clothing by people they trust. With a wide range of influencers, customers can see all the costumes on different body types. Additionally, the audience trusts their influencer, so if the costume gets a positive review, they are more likely to take a chance and order the product. Additionally on Instagram when an influencer posts wearing Fashion Nova the brand's engagement and sales spike.

In the same interview with WDD CEO Richard Saghian explained that a post by Kylie Jenner yields up to $50,000 in sales. Given the reliance and increased social media presence people have post-pandemic, influencer campaigns will most likely do even better this year. Brands like Fashion Nova will continue to see success, and many other brands will attempt to capture their consumer's attention via influencers.

The sheer amount of Halloween reviews on YouTube about Fashion Nova and similar brands like Dolls Kill pose a big problem for Halloween companies like Spirit Halloween. Spirit Halloween’s media presence is not as strong, their costumes are more traditional. In a survey done by Statista, 75 percent of people begin shopping for Halloween between September and the first two weeks of October. The increased popularity of costumes sold by online fashion retailers leads to pressure to buy the item and “test” it before the holiday. Additionally, when influencers review the costumes, consumers may compete to get a popular costume with limited stock. With many planning their perfect costume weeks in advance, brands like Spirit Halloween must cater to the more casual Halloween fan.

In an interview from The Washington Post, a previous store manager of Spirit Halloween explained that more than half of their business happens in the last two weeks of October. What we can take away from this is that Spirit Halloween is all about convenience. Their customers need quick access to costumes and all things Halloween. They don't need to invest in sponsoring influencer reviews, their consumer base is not the viewers of such videos. In comparison to Fashion Nova, Spirit Halloween dominates the children and family costume market. Given their consumer base and the timeline of their sales it is clear why Spirit Halloween is not wasting money on social media campaigns. For every person waiting two weeks for a costume to arrive from an online retailer, there's a similar one waiting and just picking out one at Spirit Halloween the week before.

There is no wrong approach. This year will be no different from previous Halloweens. Brands like Fashion Nova will continue to flourish among young adults, and Spirit Halloween will continue to be a stable and reliable place to purchase costumes. But one thing both these brands can expect is that this Halloween has the potential to bring in record-breaking sales.  

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I'm a sophomore double majoring in Marketing and International Affairs at Florida State University. I love vegan food, traveling, and listening to music!
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