Bauer Business Focus

Betsy Gelb On Why Retailers Love Halloween

The National Retail Federation forecasts consumers will spend nearly $7 billion this year on costumes, candy, and decorations.

Betsy Gelb on Halloween
Betsy Gelb

Halloween is a gold mine for America’s retailers. All through October, consumers spend billions of dollars on everything from pumpkins to pet costumes. Betsy Gelb teaches marketing and entrepreneurship at the University of Houston’s Bauer College of Business. She joins Andrew Schneider on this week’s installment of the “Bauer Business Focus.”

 

Interview Highlights:

How big a deal is Halloween for retailers?

“Halloween is the second-biggest holiday, right there after Christmas, and the numbers that people are guessing this year…$6.9 billion in sales.”

Why are people prepared to spend so much money?

“Halloween is the only truly self-indulgent holiday we have…What could be more self-indulgent than, ‘Hi, here’s my plastic pumpkin. Please put candy in it?’”

You don’t see quite as many kids trick-or-treating as you used to, for safety reasons. How does that change the way Halloween works as a business?

“It puts more money into costumes and less money into candy. …It’s going to be a party for your neighborhood kids. It’s going to be a party at the school. It’s going to be a party at the religious organization, whatever. And, absolutely, [the] kid is expected to show up in a costume. And, for that matter, the adults are going to show up in costumes.”

How is marketing for Halloween different from marketing for other holidays?

“It is the only holiday where marketers are asked, as they’re bringing a new product to market, ‘Are you sure that’s disgusting enough?’ And we don’t get that the rest of the year. Things are supposed to be attractive. For Halloween, are they off-putting enough? Are they scary? Are they icky? Are they gross? And that’s commercial success right there.”

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media’s business reporter, covering the oil...

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