HomeNEWSFright night: Halloween spending’s on the rise but can consumers celebrate without spooking the environment?

Fright night: Halloween spending’s on the rise but can consumers celebrate without spooking the environment?

Halloween continues to grow in popularity among Kiwis. But it is possible to be more creative – and less wasteful – when celebrating it, say two major retailers who have gone head to head this year to ‘own’ Halloween. 

The Warehouse has positioned itself as ‘The Scarehouse’ while Spotlight has dubbed itself ‘The Home of Halloween’. 

But both retailers have taken a similar approach when it comes to encouraging consumers to get more creative, and perhaps a little less wasteful, this Halloween.

A recent survey by a British environmental charity, Hubbub, into the seasonal outfits available from 19 supermarkets and retailers found that 83 per cent of the material used was polluting oil-based plastic likely to end up in landfill.

If that’s anything to go by, one of the scariest things about Halloween is the waste. So can consumers and retailers still mark Halloween in a way that is less frightening for the environment? 

This year has seen The Warehouse focus on a ‘DIY Your Halloween’ campaign, says head of marketing for general merch, Jade McKenzie. 

“We have created a number of short ‘how to’ videos that will be posted on our channels focused around DIY-ing your own costumes and decorations.”

Meanwhile consumers can re-use and adapt costumes and decorations, or pass them on to relatives or neighbours, says Spotlight group PR & communications manager Nick Casey. Spotlight encourages its customers to alter, adapt and extend existing costumes for growing kids, he says. 

“We also encourage everyone to hold onto their decorations year on year, though next year there will definitely be something new to add to the collection. If you must throw out those cobwebs or balloons, do so responsibly.”

Meanwhile Halloween is growing around the world (even in the original ‘home of Halloween’, the US) and New Zealand is no exception. 

According to figures from the National Retail Federation (NRF), 68 per cent of Americans plan to celebrate the festival this year. 

US consumers are forecast to spend $86 per person on Halloween in 2019, which equates to billions of dollars in total. The NRF says that the top Halloween spending categories are $3.2 billion on costumes, $2.6 billion on candy, $2.7 billion on decorations and $390 million on greeting cards. 

Britons are also increasingly embracing Halloween. In 2018 more than half (51.5%) splashed out on it. This year Halloween spending is expected to reach a record £387 million, up 5.5% on last year. 

Although a 2018 Stuff poll found that only 19% of people enjoyed Halloween, it seems that Kiwis are increasingly celebrating it.

At online store Mighty Ape, sales in children’s Halloween costumes have seen 50% year-on-year growth and Harry Potter outfits do “consistently well”, says ‘chief marketing gorilla’ Gracie MacKinlay.

Adult costumes have only seen a small growth year-on-year but top sellers include the “mall dress” worn by Eleven in the latest series of Stranger Things and a Jurassic World inflatable T-Rex costume. 

Spotlight has seen sales increase for Halloween in all of its markets – New Zealand, Australia and Asia – every year, says Casey. 

Spotlight’s Halloween sales grew almost 6% in 2018, he adds, and this year “is projected to outstrip that. We’re on track to sell over 200,000 units across our Spooky Hollow brand.”

“The idea of Halloween being a purely ‘American’ tradition is fading, with more families celebrating by ‘trick or treating’ or throwing a party at home.”

The Warehouse would not reveal Halloween sales figures, but McKenzie agrees that more Kiwis are celebrating. 

“We have found that Halloween increases in popularity every year in New Zealand with more families wanting to join in on the celebration. Families love the excitement of dressing up the kids and bringing the community together for a night of fun.”

The Warehouse has positioned itself as the home of celebrations, she says, so “it’s important that the retailer owns Halloween as the ‘one stop shop’ for all Halloween needs. We want customers to love Halloween for less and make it easy by offering everything under one roof”.

At Spotlight the focus is on creativity, says Casey.

“Halloween is the perfect excuse for people to unleash their creativity, whether it’s dressing up, decorating the house, baking something gooey and gross, or simply just throwing on some face paint. 

“Spotlight stands for empowering self-expression and allowing families to be creative together, which aligns perfectly with Halloween. [It’s] less about being spooky and gory and more about creativity and fun.”

Back at the Warehouse, McKenzie says that customers love the creativity side of Halloween, too. Retailers can use social media to harness this.

 “We know that customers are always looking for fresh inspiration and ideas around Halloween, so social media channels are the perfect place for us to provide new ideas and inspiration.”

Social media is also “paramount in driving excitement for Halloween,” adds Casey. “More family-oriented social influencers are dressing their kids up and who doesn’t love a chance to show off their perfect eyeball cupcakes? We’re seeing more content creators over this side of the world put their unique spin on Halloween.”

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