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Major B.C. retailer expects 'strong' Halloween sales despite rising cost of living

Nearly half of Canadians who celebrate Halloween expect to spend more than $50.
A Halloween costume store has opened in the 800 block of Granville Street

Halloween spending season is underway, with retailers expecting consumers to shell out for costumes, candy and decorations despite persistently high inflation throughout much of the year, which has cut into disposable incomes.

"There's been a lot of tough news both recently and consistently, not only with world events, but with the high cost of living," London Drugs president Clint Mahlman told BIV yesterday. 

"Classically, when we see that happen, we see any event that incorporates get-togethers and having fun become really important to distract them. We suspect that that's what's going to happen this year."

He said his general merchandise retailer has costumes, candy and healthy snacks on shelves and that sales are going well. 

"Halloween is rapidly becoming the second most important seasonal event for most retailers," Mahlman said. "We've seen over the past decade that customers are really getting into decorating their houses and apartments. I think this Halloween will also be strong."

He said that his company does not sell large lawn ornaments but the company has some decorations, such as small pumpkin lights.

Costume stores have started to pop up, such as a Halloween Costumes by M.O.D. Ltd. store in the 800 block of Granville Street.

The City of Vancouver banned fireworks sales starting on Nov. 1, 2020, so money that historically went to buying fireworks might be shifted to buy other Halloween products. 

Approximately 48.8 per cent of Canadians who celebrate Halloween plan to spend more than $50 this year, according to a Retail Council of Canada (RCC) survey

It found that 81.8 per cent of Canadians expect to spend more or the same for Halloween this year, compared with last year. About 62.2 per cent of Canadians' Halloween budgets are spent on candies and eating out to celebrate Halloween, according to the RCC.

One takeaway insight from the survey is that those who are taking part in Halloween celebrations are more dedicated than they were last year. About 45 per cent of survey respondents said that they planned to make a shopping trip specifically to buy for Halloween celebrations. That is up a whopping 17 percentage points from the 28 per cent of respondents who said that last year. 

Another trend is the consumer desire to support local retailers. About 87 per cent of respondents said that they were eager to support their local retailers with Halloween spending this year, compared with 55.2 per cent who said that last year. 

The survey found 33.8 per cent of people who said that they did not make Halloween-related purchases. About 46.2 per cent of people said they did buy something related to Halloween in the two weeks before the big night. Spending continues until Halloween itself, with 5.7 per cent of people telling RCC that they plan to spend on that calendar day.

"While most Halloween celebrating Canadians (81 per cent) plan to spend the same or more as in 2023, there is a growing percentage Canadians this year who will spend under $50 (51.2 per cent vs 45.7 per cent in 2022)," the RCC's study said.

"This suggests that those who have traditionally spent less on Halloween, they may spend even less this year."

Indeed, Deloitte Canada yesterday released a report with a survey on anticipated spending this holiday season. One of its findings was that average household spending in the upcoming holiday season is expected to fall 11 per cent this year, to $1,347.

“Canadians are looking for value and are willing to shop around to find it – be it online or in-store,” said Marty Weintraub, partner and national retail leader at Deloitte Canada.

"This shift in behaviour gives retailers no choice but to rethink their value proposition and focus on providing a differentiated, seamless shopping experience that resonates with today’s consumers irrespective of channel. Every touchpoint along the customer journey is an opportunity for retailers to deliver value —whether it's competitive pricing, product availability, fast checkouts, free delivery, easy returns, or personalized promotions.”

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