The growing popularity of Halloween provides many exciting opportunities for the retail sector. That’s the verdict of research company Kids Insights’ latest survey of more than 5,000 youngsters. The survey found that 70% of children are planning to celebrate Halloween this year, a figure which jumps to 89% among four to six-year-olds. Kids Insights says this demonstrates the strength of the event which is resonating more strongly with every generation of UK children and how it has established itself as one of the key events for UK retailers.

Girls are more likely than boys to join in with Halloween celebrations and Trick or Treating is the most common way to celebrate, with 58% of four to 9-year-olds expecting to partake this year.

Beyond the age of 11, the number of children who celebrate Halloween begins to fall, from 83% of 11-year-olds to 48% of 14-year-olds. The number of teenagers who celebrate then stays stable, at around 50%, but it’s teenagers who are most likely to hold a Halloween party with their friends.

Of course, in a lot of instances it will be parents buying Halloween items for their kids. A study commissioned by Royal Mail for last Halloween found that more than half of UK consumers spend money on Halloween, with the average UK consumer spending £23. Sweets and food are the most popular Halloween purchases (75%), followed by decorations (41%) and fancy dress outfits (36%).

The study had good news for forecourt and convenience retailers as it found that shopping for Halloween was not planned well ahead of the event, with consumers most likely to buy Halloween goods just two to six days before 31 October (35%). And 8% of shoppers leave their Halloween purchasing to the day before or the day itself. This means having eye-catching displays is vital so customers realise you have products available and will come back later to buy them.

Sales spike

Claire James, trade marketing manager for Haribo, says: "Stocking product up to one month in advance supports planned purchases and although Trick or Treating peaks on the day, this year Halloween falls on a Wednesday, so we expect the Halloween week to see a higher spike than previous years. We’ll also see parties in the weekends before and after the occasion - so getting stock levels and formats right is crucial."

James says Halloween is the strongest seasonal occasion for Haribo and for sweets, which outperform chocolate as consumers stock up for Trick or Treating and parties. Indeed the brand experienced 5% year-on-year growth last Halloween.

"Halloween is an occasion where shoppers look for trusted brands," she explains, "those that they know will deliver great taste and will be enjoyed by the majority they certainly don’t want to look cheap when it comes to treating or hosting a spooky celebration."

She recommends Tangfastics Minis and Starmix Minis, both of which contain 11 mini bags. Another key line is Maoam’s selection of individually wrapped chews, including Stripes, Joystixx and MaoMixx.

According to Nielsen data, confectionery helped drive Halloween sales growth by 7%, as more than a third of UK consumers bought sweets and/or chocolate for the seasonal event. Mars Wrigley says the growth was largely driven by a shift in demand towards sharing bags and twistwrap confectionery as consumers looked for Trick or Treat and Big Night In confectionery options. During the Halloween period, funsize and sharing confectionery grew by 6.5% and 5.7% respectively (Nielsen), highlighting the demand for a range of options across the Halloween season.

Research conducted by Mars Wrigley found that 41% of consumers took part in Trick or Treating last year. That research also revealed that watching a scary movie is becoming an increasingly popular ritual that starts to build excitement in the run-up to Halloween. The company’s survey found that 31% of consumers watched a scary movie at home last year across the Halloween period which it says presents a huge opportunity for retailers to stock a range of sharing bag treats, perfect for the Big Night In occasion.

Stocking themed packs of products is great for adding excitement on-shelf but can be a risky business because of its short life span.

With this in mind, Perfetti Van Melle (PVM) keeps the artwork very simple on its spooky packs but this has led to sales success. Mark Roberts, trade marketing manager at PVM, says last year, with the new artwork for Juicy Chews and Duo Stick Halloween packs, Fruittella’s Halloween bags grew by 79%, which contributed to PVM’s overall growth of 14% in this period, which was faster and earlier than the rest of the market (IRI data).

Roberts reminds retailers that there is a wide demographic looking to make purchases in the lead up to Halloween. "Seventy one per cent of households without children bought seasonal products in 2017 which suggests that there is a clear market for grandparents buying sweet treats for grandchildren, or single couples preparing for the growing number of trick or treaters we’re seeing in cities and suburban areas across the UK. Offering a wide range of products to be able to meet the needs of different shoppers in the market is vital to ensuring that retailers are able to see an increase in their confectionery sales."

Another brand that is selling well at Halloween is Kinder Choco-Bons. Levi Boorer, customer development director at Ferrero UK, says: "Last year, we saw a 68% uplift in sales during the key seasonal period, thanks to our Halloween inspired packs (Nielsen). Returning for 2018, we have refreshed our monster designed bags, to drive seasonal excitement and help retailers capitalise on the occasion."

Each 200g bag includes individually wrapped bite-sized chocolates ideal for sharing with Trick or Treaters this Halloween. The new packs will be supported with a sampling campaign and on social media, and free pos material is available from Ferrero at

Treat time

While sharing is a big trend, some people like to treat themselves at Halloween and Mondelez did well with this last year as it had the UK’s number one Halloween self-treat within its range Cadbury Screme Egg which sold 1.4m units (IRI data).

As a result of this success, the confectionery giant is updating its self-treat range this season to help drive impulse sales. It is doing so with a new spooky version of the Creme Egg. Called Cadbury Goo Heads, there are creepy skeleton, pumpkin, Frankenstein, Dracula and werewolf variants, with each chocolate head filled with gooey white fondant. Replacing the Screme Egg, these are available individually (rrp 55p) or in a pack of five (rrp £2.85). But the sharing market has not been forgotten so there are Cadbury Good Head Minis, rrp £1.49.

Mondelez advises retailers to stock up with these new items from early October onwards to add excitement in-store.

Russell Tanner, marketing and category director at Tangerine Confectionery, sums up: "The Halloween confectionery market has grown by 34% cent over the last two years, and we don’t expect this growth to slow down. Last year we saw sales of our best-selling Halloween bag (including Dip Dab lollies, Fruit Salad lollies, mini Refresher rolls and mini Wham chew bars) fly off retailers’ shelves, and we’re expecting this year’s Halloween range to be even more successful.

"Nostalgia is a huge driver for the confectionery market. Parents and grandparents are keen to recreate their childhood memories of trick-or-treating with the next generation, and share with them the sweets they enjoyed when they were their age. Our new Barratt Halloween Bucket is ideal for this, offering variety and a functional, handy format fit for greeting Trick or Treaters of all ages."

Time for terrifying treats

Halloween is the third biggest sales season for Premier Foods and its Mr Kipling and Cadbury Cake brands. Steve Kelly, channel director at the company says the Cadbury brand did particularly well last year, experiencing 31% growth (IRI). "The continued success and growth can be in part attributed to bigger, sharing formats which offer value for money and are great for groups at parties and offering as Halloween treats. The use of familiar, iconic products with a Halloween twist also drives value and fits well with the occasion," he explains. This year, the Mr Kipling Fiendish Fancies and Terrifying Toffee Whirls will return (both rrp £1), alongside a new Cadbury Pumpkin Patch Gateau (£3).
Kelly says a great way to extend and get more value out of the Halloween occasion is for retailers to look at stocking Bonfire Night (5 November) related products as well. Mr Kipling Toffee Apple Slices and Chocolate & Marshmallow Slices will be available next monthas well as new Cadbury Cakes Mini Bonfire Logs.

Retailer view

"We think you’re really missing out if you don’t get behind Halloween.
"Halloween is not as big as Christmas or Easter but it’s definitely worth doing. Staff can dress up if they want to I always paint myself green and am the Wicked Witch of the West. We put up a poster in the shop and a message on Facebook saying children who come in in fancy dress can have free sweets or candy floss (we have a big candy floss machine). We stock some themed products such as cakes, chocolate and soft drinks but our main thing is big sharing bags of sweets. We have them on display at the front of the shop."

Fanta’s frightening sales success

Amy Burgess, trade communications manager at Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP), says Fanta is a key driver of soft drinks growth during the four-week Halloween period (Nielsen data). "While overall soft drinks grew by 3.7% during Halloween last year, Fanta saw a boost of 26% and this was accelerated by more consumers picking up Fanta Zero than ever before (Nielsen). As more consumers take part in the spooky celebrations each year, the sales opportunity for the number one flavoured carbonates brand and our retail partners continues to grow."
The drinks brand is working hard to remain relevant to Halloween. Last year it joined up with Snapchat for an on-pack offer where consumers could unlock exclusive Fanta Halloween-themed Snapchat filters and lenses, which changed daily to encourage repeat purchases. "The campaign was awarded Snapchat’s ’Best Brand Activation of the Year’, which is why we’re teaming up with them again for another exciting activation with new and ’exclooooosive’ filters and lenses," explains Burgess.
As well as the partnership with Snapchat, limited-edition ghoulish on-pack graphics by artist Noma Bar are making a return, backed by a multi-million pound marketing campaign that includes digital and outdoor advertising, social media and Twisted Carnival experiential activities.
CCEP is also unveiling the winners of the Fanta Flavour Election, a campaign that kicked off in April. "We teamed up with four popular influencers who each have large social media followings reaching a combined 4.4m Facebook and 712k Instagram fans," says Burgess. "Each influencer represented a new Fanta flavour and encouraged consumers to vote for their favourite flavour via online prank videos which gained 18.7m views and made it into the top 10 sponsored videos in April on Facebook."
More than 150,000 votes later, and Fanta Blood Orange Zero and Fanta Pink Grapefruit Zero were named the winners and will be joining the brand’s portfolio for Halloween, available in 2ltr bottles.