'Spooky' Halloween Spend Trends Foreshadow Upcoming Holiday Habits

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Though Halloween may be known for its tricks and treats, the craziest antics often come well before All Hallows' Eve even arrives. You see, as Halloween continues to gain in popularity, consumers are now scrambling to conjure up costumes and stockpile sweets before one holiday rolls into the next. In fact, according to the NRF's Halloween Consumer Spending Survey, consumers are expected to spend $7.4 billion on Halloween goods in 2014. Thus, with added importance and immediacy driving shoppers to get their acts together, this year's survey demonstrates just how consumer behaviors and intentions will align to make this Halloween one for the record books.
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Though Halloween may be known for its tricks and treats, the craziest antics often come well before All Hallows' Eve even arrives. You see, as Halloween continues to gain in popularity, consumers are now scrambling to conjure up costumes and stockpile sweets before one holiday rolls into the next. In fact, according to the NRF's Halloween Consumer Spending Survey, consumers are expected to spend $7.4 billion on Halloween goods in 2014. Thus, with added importance and immediacy driving shoppers to get their acts together, this year's survey demonstrates just how consumer behaviors and intentions will align to make this Halloween one for the record books. Here are some of the highlights:- More that two-thirds (67 percent) of consumers polled plan to purchase costumes this Halloween, with the typical person spending $77.52 total.
- While $2.8 billion will be spent on costumes overall, $1.1 billion will be spent on children's costumes, $1.4 billion will be spent on adult costumes, and $350 million will be spent on pet costumes this year.
- Consumers plan to spend $2.2 billion on candy and $2 billion on decorations, while 36 percent of these consumers intend to send greeting cards.
- Most respondents will hand out candy (71 percent), while 47 percent plan to decorate their homes/yards.

Yet, while many Americans plan to partake in the festivities in some capacity, nearly 25 percent will likely wait until the last minute--a.k.a. now--to complete their shopping. Therefore, as everyone heads off to scrounge up the supplies that remain, retailers must battle long lines and wait times in order to maximize profit. Though smaller in scale, these Halloween crowds can actually serve as practice for the greater Christmas rush.

"Any retailer who wants to improve customer experience and maximize profits during seasonal buying peaks, such as Halloween and Christmas, needs to take a serious look at customer flow and mobile queuing technology, to ensure that any time customers spend waiting to check out is spent on the aisles, looking for more merchandise to bring home," says Alex Bäcker, CEO of QLess.

By looking for ways to solve problems now, retailers will be well equipped to handle the truly scary crowds come Christmastime. Bäcker suggests retailers develop an effective customer flow by adopting these three strategies and technologies:

- One single queue feeding all checkout counters so that customers won't feel frustrated by choosing a line that moves slower, with special emphasis on equitable first in, first out checkout processes.
- Mobile queuing that allows customers to roam the aisles freely while they wait to checkout, thereby enabling them to continue browsing for items they may have forgotten.
- Real-time wait forecasts, which permit customers to foresee and visit during the shortest wait times. Also known as load balancing, this strategy reduces peak wait times and diminishes frustration.

Retailers that acknowledge these issues and look to rectify any underlying problems sooner rather than later will set themselves up for greater success throughout the rest of the holiday season.

To learn more about the NRF's Halloween Consumer Spending Survey, check out the 'Top 10 Trends in Halloween Spending 2014' eBook below.

EXPERT OPINION
EXPERT OPINION