How Halloween Became Nothing But A Commercial Event

Last year shoppers went crazy and spent a whopping £300 million on fancy dress outfits, face paints, masks, party decor, and pumpkins. This Halloween retailers are hoping to break even more records and take more money than ever before with their latest promotional ideas.

Five years ago Halloween spending amounted to less than £12 million. Decades ago Halloween consisted of people standing round a tin bath playing the popular ‘apple-dunking’ game on the Eve of All Saints’ Day, the historic day for wicked witches and warlocks to indulge in their evil revelations and triumph over good.

It is very surprising just how fashionable Halloween has become in the UK, and furthermore important to the retail industry. Astonishingly Halloween is the third biggest sales event of the year sitting closely behind Easter and then Christmas. It has become a special event for everyone and not just children. Halloween has shifted into a celebration where adults are given the chance to escape from reality for the day. You can put a Halloween costume on and forget about the pressures and stress of work, let your hair down and have fun dressing up without anyone judging you.

Many more retailers and supermarkets have began to open their doors and sell Halloween goods from mid September right through to the last day of October. Department stores such as John Lewis and House of Fraser have a range of Halloween merchandise to decorate your home and treat your guests with. From a range of spooky banners and hanging ghosts to pumpkins filled with sweets, department stores have something for everyone.

Even supermarkets such as ASDA and Sainsbury’s are taking advantage of the Halloween season. Apart from overfilled crates of pumpkins, they are stocking their shelves with a range of trick or treat goodies and aisles full of frightening costumes and accessories for both adults and children. Retail stores are not the only beneficiary of this craze, online sales are now booming. Sainsbury’s have their own online party planner on their supermarket website highlighting a range of inexpensive ideas to create your very own “fright night”. There are sections on how to make your own decorations, games, easy food and even tutorials on how to carve a pumpkin. The retailer Poundland has also seen a huge increase in Halloween sales over the past few years with many of their larger stores dedicating a whole section of the store with Halloween merchandise. As everything is a pound there’s no wonder why their trick or treat baskets, devil costumes and window decorations are selling so strongly.

Young adults are responsible for most of the growth in the Halloween industry as this age group are the ones most likely to celebrate Halloween. The benefit of nightclubs and restaurants has accelerated Halloween even further by throwing additional events for young adults to attend in fancy dress attire. Alcohol companies have also cashed in on the Halloween season by bringing in special drink recipes including the Pumpkin Pie and Candy Apple Martini which have proven to be very popular.

Fancy dress costumes are an essential part of Halloween celebrations. Every year people will still wait until right before the event to purchase costumes and accessories. Statistics show more than 50% of Halloween merchandise sales are done within the last few days before Halloween, with young adult consumers flocking to stores this week for inexpensive goodies from traditional fancy dress costumes to Halloween themed accessories. For those who don’t want to go all out with their costumes, the high street retailer Topshop has some suggestions on Halloween outfits on their online website. Topshop suggest wearing cobweb stockings and tights, blood splattered lace dresses or dark and mysterious capes to create a Halloween inspired outfit this season. So whether you want to go all out, or just add your outfit a bit of Halloween mystery you’ll definitely be able to find what you’re looking for.

The tourism industry is also showing an indication that Halloween is a growing global empire. Towns and cities all over the country are hosting Halloween events and activities for all the family. Theme parks are even taking advantage of the opportunity to offer exclusive Halloween events. In the UK, Thorpe Park has cashed in on the event by devoting a night to Halloween which features rides in pitch black, haunted houses, horror mazes and scare zones where actors in scary costumes can jump out at visitors at any moment.

Traditional meaning of the Halloween event has all been lost as retail and tourist companies have taken over and bombarded consumers with a commercial event. What was supposed to be a day of celebration for witches has become a day for retailers to maximise sales and go beyond targets. This year Halloween sales are expected to exceed previous years with more and more stores, nightclubs and theme parks taking full advantage of consumers on October 31st.

But it’s not all doom and gloom, as well as companies benefiting financially, everyone gets the chance to dress up, enjoy parties and feel part of a huge community for one special night.

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