UK Retail Market Sinks its Teeth into Halloween

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“Halloween starts earlier and earlier, just like Christmas” – Robert Englund

It’s that time of year again with pumpkins carved, confectionery bowls filled to the brim and your finest cat costume at the ready. What started as a Pagan festival in the British Isles, before becoming a hugely celebrated North American tradition, has now swept across the globe, growing in size each year, creating an excess of opportunities for the retail market.

It’s widely acknowledged that our friends across the Atlantic are the Kings of Halloween, outdoing themselves year-on-year. It is estimated that $8.4 billion will be spent in the United States on fiendish festivities this year; a new record and roughly a $1.5 billion increase on 2015. The US is also expected to break records on the average spend and number of people celebrating.

Granted we might not get into the Halloween spirit quite as much as our Americans counterparts, but the Halloween market in the UK is nothing to be sniffed at with retail marketing growing year-on-year. Having seen the revenue potential of Halloween, retailers in the UK are now keen to widen their target market to include teenagers and adults. To put the growth of Halloween in the UK into perspective, in 2001 the value of the Halloween industry was valued at around £12 million whereas, in 2015, over £300 million was spent on Halloween goods and celebrations.

Supermarkets are the main beneficiaries of this growth, with Asda being the biggest seller of costumes in the UK. And retailers estimated half of all adults bought Halloween-themed food in 2015, a 10% increase on 2014. Asda claims that over the last five years, the number of Halloween-themed products stocked has grown by 42%.



UK v USA: 2015 Statistics

Why is the Halloween Retail Market growing?

Halloween has now moved ahead of Valentine’s Day to become the third biggest ‘holiday’ for retailers behind Christmas and Easter with roughly £300 million being spent on the ominous occasion in 2015, as well as being the country’s second biggest party night after New Year’s Eve; but what is the reason for its growth?

Halloween is now celebrated amongst numerous ages from young children “trick or treating” to young adults attending Halloween parties in their masses; just go to any University across the country and Halloween is the most celebrated night of the school year. Further to this, Halloween is a relatively cheap celebration in comparison to Christmas; consumers aren’t spending as much on food, presents or decorations. The average spend in 2015 by consumers in the UK was £33; and shoppers are prepared to spend money if it provides value and excitement, something Halloween does well.

Emma Angel, Director of Angels Fancy Dress, the UK’s largest costume hire company, suggested that Halloween has grown in this country due to the fact people have become very “Americanised” through American TV, movies and media and also stated that Halloween parties have now replaced the Bonfire Night parties held by many families across the country.

Most Popular Halloween Costumes.

Whilst Americans are the Halloween experts, the one thing we Brits can proudly claim is that we are the undisputed masters of wit, as proven by the most popular costume choices in the UK. Whilst the stereotypical Halloween costumes are still popular amongst UK consumers, we have always followed popular trends from the media to pick our costumes:

2008 – The Joker from The Dark Knight was a smash hit

2013 – Miley Cyrus doppelgängers were everywhere

2014 – Breaking Bad’s Walter White was a popular choice

2015 – The force was strong with Star Wars once again

So what’s in store for us this year?

According to retailers, the five most popular costumes for adults are:

  1. Donald Trump
  2. Leon Trotsky
  3. Emojis
  4. Harambe the Gorilla
  5. Bananas (Obviously)

Fancy dress costumes are the most popular Halloween purchases; in 2015, 55% of Halloween consumers bought clothing. This figure rises to 62% among female Halloween shoppers, and 63% among consumers with children.

Aston, PA, USA - September 22, 2016: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump delivers a speech at a rally in Aston, Pennsylvania.

Scary: Donald Trump is the most popular fancy dress costume for Halloween shoppers this year


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