Fall is Fun for Retailers

Fall is Fun for Retailers

Written by: Stephanie Bariatti, SMB Media Marketing Consultant 

            Fall has only just officially begun, but Halloween merch and pumpkin-spice everything has been available to consumers for weeks already.


            It is a time of year that retailers have come to truly embrace.  After all, Halloween is the second-biggest spending holiday for consumers.  And since many of last year’s festivities were stifled by Covid-19 restrictions, many are itching to go “all out” this year.  However, the threat of Covid still looms, so those planning on celebrating may still not be as great as pre-pandemic levels, but it will get pretty close.


            In fact, consumer spending on Halloween-related items is expected to reach an all-time high of $10.14 billion, up from $8.05 billion in 2020, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics.  “Americans plan to spend more than ever to make this Halloween a memorable one,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Retailers have implemented a number of measures, such as bringing in Halloween products earlier than normal, to ensure their shelves are stocked with seasonal candy, décor and other items ahead of this important holiday.”             



            In anticipation of the increased demand, Spirit Halloween plans to open 1,425 stores, even more than last fall’s 1,400, per RetailWire.  Party City also plans to open more of its Halloween City stores this year.


            An estimated 65 percent of Americans intend to celebrate Halloween or participate in Halloween activities this year, up from 58 percent in 2020 and comparable with 68 percent in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic.  Households with children are much more likely to celebrate Halloween (82 percent) than those without (55 percent).  They are also estimated to spend more than twice the amount than households without children ($149.69 compared with $73.57) on Halloween items.  Many children completely missed out on celebrating Halloween 2020, due to the cancellation of school and community events, so they are ready to participate this year.


            There is every indication that enthusiasm for décor will remain high this year.  Remember the success of Home Depot’s viral 12-foot skeleton last Halloween?  The store’s early, sneak-peek release of Halloween decor sold out immediately, Fortune reported, and this year’s full collection includes costumes for the 12-foot skeleton.  Other chains like chains like Target and Michaels have continued to bolster their selections of Halloween-themed home goods.  It makes sense, because even if consumers do not plan on taking part in any social activities, they can still feel safe decorating the inside or outside of their homes.


            Along with the ghoulish decor that hits shelves before temperatures have dropped, there are other autumn-related releases that arrive earlier each year: coffee chains’ fall drinks and foods.  In August, Starbucks began selling its beloved Pumpkin Spice Latte and other fall items, while Dunkin’ also rolled out its pumpkin products — record-setting releases for each company, per NPR.  


            If you’re not in the pumpkin-spice game, you’ve got to get on board.  If you need more convincing, eMarketer recently released some interesting data, showing just how much Americans love all things pumpkin spice. 

  • According to data from Instacart, West Virginia is +122% more likely to purchase pumpkin spice items via the grocery platform; Iowa (+90%), North Carolina (+62%), Wisconsin (+58%) overindex as well.  Louisiana (-42%) and California (-34%) were least likely to purchase pumpkin spice items.
  • August and September’s pumpkin-related orders are 10 times that of any other month, per Grubhub data.  The states that ordered the most pumpkin spice lattes via Grubhub were Ohio, Iowa, New Mexico, Washington, DC, Pennsylvania, and Oregon.
  • The top pumpkin spice-flavored items ordered on the platform were pumpkin spice cake, pumpkin spice cookies, hot chai tea pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin spice cheesecake, and pumpkin spice smoothies.
  • In terms of sentiment, 60% of US consumers consider pumpkin spice to be their "fall jam," according to a recent survey by Nissin Foods. Over 50% of Gen Z respondents indicated they were "obsessed" with pumpkin spice, with 10% saying they were year-round fans of the trendy flavor.  Nissin’s popular Cup Noodles ramen brand is getting in on the craze with its October launch of pumpkin spice noodles, which will be "saucy, not soup-based," according to the company.

             Seems like there’s a way to “pumpkin spice-fy” anything.


            So, here’s to a safe and happy fall and a fun Halloween!  Although anything can change over the coming weeks, the estimates for a successful retail season are not scary at all.


Stephanie Bariatti works as a Consultant and Project Manager for SMB Media Consulting.  She has had extensive experience with many facets of advertising and media, having worked for and with creative agencies, production companies and research departments.  She lives in New York with her wonderful husband, three lovable little boys and a snuggly Golden Retriever.