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Even in the age of Amazon, consumers still prefer in-store shopping for Halloween

Last holiday season, e-commerce accounted for 12.3 percent of all sales. It’s a number that grows by about one percent every year when it’s time to buy gifts for friends and family.

Halloween is…different

That story changes at Halloween though. While more and more consumers head online for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, they tend to head to stores for costumes, creepy decorations and candy. According to Proper Insights and the NRF, 42 percent of shoppers will go to a discount store, 36 percent will make a purchase a specialty Halloween or costume store, 25 percent will shop at a grocery store, and 23 percent will visit a department store (visits with duplications). While 25 percent of shoppers say they will go online, that will be largely to scour images and videos on Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration. So consumers may search online for Elton John sunglasses or Lizzo swimsuits, but they’re likely to head to the mall or Main Street to actually buy their costumes and spooky decor.

That might explain why so many Halloween shops magically appear around late August each year. Stores like Spirit Halloween and Halloween City pop up in empty storefronts and malls, capitalizing on those in-person sales. According to Deborah Belevan, vice president of investor relations for Halloween City, a subsidiary of Party City, “Halloween is really our Christmas.” Phil Rist, EVP of Strategy at Prosper, noted, “”The pure-play Halloween retailers like say a Party City or Spirit Halloween may start planning store locations literally Nov. 1, and it’s an all-year-round type of thinking for the right real estate and for products. But Halloween is one of those holidays that there’s pretty much year round activity associated with it.”

With $8.8 billion on the line, this is important information to have available. We already know that the majority of all purchases, globally, are completed in-store. Research composed by Blis and WBR last year found that participating retailers saw 63 percent of their revenue come from in-store sales. With so many consumers shopping for tricks and treats, driving foot traffic should be a priority.

Scaring up foot traffic

How can you drive foot traffic? Since consumers from so many diverse demographics shop for Halloween candy, costumes, and décor, the net can be pretty wide! Big box stores should certainly reach out to past buyers, as should supermarkets and retail pharmacy chains. By engaging shoppers who already frequent your stores and letting them know you’re ready for the spooky season, you may have an opportunity to bring them in before they even know where the nearest pop-up shop has appeared. Retailers may want to consider targeting mobile devices that have been in their stores, and even geofencing areas in the store vicinity to keep their regular customers interested enough to come back for candy, costumes and glow-in-the-dark spider webs – as well as a quart of milk and an economy pack of paper towels.

For seasonal pop-ups, the strategies may be more involved, but most of these larger Halloween stores scout and secure locations a year in advance of the holiday. Since many will not have an opportunity to dig into historical customer data, historical location data may provide the insights and real-world intelligence these (and other) retailers need to fill in the gaps. Solutions like Blis Analytics can help marketers understand who their local audiences are and what they look like: are there families in neighborhoods where stores are planned? Is there a high concentration of young, single folks who are likely to go to Halloween parties or clubs? These insights can help pop-ups not only choose locations, but determine what sort of inventory they should be carrying.

Once marketers know the lay of the land, Blis Activation can help target and convert audiences by creating relevant ads that are more likely to convert. For example, Halloween retailers can target families within a 15-20-minute drive of their store with ads for fun outdoor decorations and popular kids’ costumes – or young, single adults with ads featuring costumes like the Joker or Pennywise. (Note that Millennials spend over $10 more on Halloween than other demographics!) By understanding who the target audience is – and knowing that they’re within an easy walk or driving distance – marketers can boost engagement and substantially improve foot traffic in the store.

Halloween can be an exciting and lucrative time for marketers. As mentioned earlier, for many retailers, this is their biggest holiday of the year. Leveraging real-world intelligence to understand who your shoppers are can determine whether the holiday yields tricks or treats!

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