This year Halloween falls on a Saturday (October 31), which can mean only one thing that it’s likely to be a bigger event than ever. You can expect families up and down the country to be carving pumpkins, going trick-or-treating and generally having a ghoulishly good time.

Some might think it sad that US-inspired Halloween has overtaken our home-grown Bonfire Night in the events calendar, but no-one can argue its popularity. According to Savvy Marketing, it’s estimated to be worth some £284m to UK retailers. That figures breaks down to: £117m on food and drink; £64m on costumes; £54m on confectionery; and £49m on decorations. It’s a lot of money so if you haven’t embraced the occasion yet, you really need to think about doing so. That’s because, according to him! research, 50% of UK adults will purchase something that’s Halloween related with 29% buying confectionery for treat-or-treaters; 18% buying pumpkins; 13% buying costumes; and 12% buying decorations. And while the grocery multiples are the first choice for shoppers, many look for stuff in convenience stores too.

The people at him! believe Halloween represents a big opportunity for c-store retailers to ’wow’ shoppers as expectations are lower ie they don’t expect to find much Halloween fare in c-stores so when they do, they’re pleased.

There’s no doubt that the grocery mults go to town for the occasion with lots of in-store theatre but getting involved does not have to take a great deal of effort.

Yes, you can dress up your store and even your staff if they like that sort of thing, but manufacturers supply lots of pos and eye-catching shelf-ready packaging that’s easy to display.

If creating large displays is an issue because of space, Perfetti Van Melle (PVM) recommends placing smaller items at the till point to catch shoppers’ attention. The company says its new Chupa Chups Monstrous Pop lollies are ideal for this and at just 20p each, make a great impulse purchase. New to the UK market, these lollies have a ’sherbet eye’ inside. They come in three flavours: blueberry-lemon, cola-lemon and strawberry-lemon. As well as the single 20p Pops there are bags of 10, which are ideal for those shopping for a party or for trick-or-treaters.

Scary movie

Another new line from PVM is its Fruittella Hotel Transylvania 2 themed bags, which tie in with the new film. The company says these sweets have a pro-longed shelf life, as the film will be in cinemas for weeks, and then there will be additional promotions when it is released on DVD. The launch will also be supported by an on-pack promotion where there are thousands of prizes to be won.

PVM says it’s introducing pos material to support the products and help retailers create theatre in store. Burton’s Biscuit Company is also teaming up with Hotel Transylvania 2 with an on-pack promotion across all its Halloween products. This has a star prize of a family holiday for four to Transylvania, as well as runner-up prizes including DVDs and Sony electronics.

And Burton’s range is boosted this year with the launch of Cadbury Screme Egg Biscuits, which build on the success of Burton’s best-selling Easter product, Cadbury Creme Egg Biscuits, which this year saw sales of £2.5m in just 13 weeks (Kantar Worldpanel). The biscuits are covered in Cadbury milk chocolate and have a white and ’goo-lish green’ fondant filling just like their Screme Egg confectionery counterparts.

And back for this year are Cadbury Mini Animals Halloweenies which, according to Nielsen data, are the number one Halloween biscuit product on the market. Plus there are Cadbury Halloween Mini Fingers and the Cadbury Trick or Treat biscuit assortment. Nielsen data says sales of Halloween sweet biscuits in 2014 totalled £1.3m, with Burton’s accounting for a 72% market share (up 14.7% year-on-year).

From biscuits to cakes, and Premier Foods has a new Cadbury Witch’s Broom containing 10 Mini Rolls and a Cadbury Trick or Treat Cauldron containing 12 Mini Rolls. In addition, packaging has been refreshed on the Cadbury Blackcurrant Bite Mini Rolls and the Cadbury Cinder Toffee Cake Bars. And the Mr Kipling range for Halloween includes Choc and Slime Slices, Toffee Terror Whirls and Witch’s Hat Fancies.

Screme team

The aforementioned Cadbury Screme egg is a "must stock’ for Halloween as the autumn version of the Easter favourite with its green fondant centre is the number one Halloween self-eat. At number three (Nielsen data) is the Cadbury Crunchy Spider, which is filled with green crispy bites.

While Mondelez is sticking to tried and tested Halloween favourites, Nestlé Confectionery is launching a wider range of products for 2015, with the new Mini Smarties Trick or Treat Pumpkin leading the line up. A tear strip on the front of the pumpkin’s mouth can be removed to create a pack ideal for taking straight to the door to share with trick or treaters. Inside the mouth are 10 boxes of Mini Smarties. The eight-count display outer asks "Do you dare to dip?", to capture shoppers’ attention while at the same time ensuring great standout on-shelf.

Nestlé points to a recent Nielsen report which revealed that shoppers were looking for packs that are easy to hand out to trick-or-treaters, have fun or novel Halloween branding, and contain treats that are individually wrapped. It says the new product ticks all those boxes.

Also new for 2015 is Rowntree’s Randoms Spooky Mix. This sharing bag is full of spooky shaped sweets, such as ghosts, bats, pumpkins and skulls. And returning to the range are the popular Smarties Pumpkin and Milkybar Ghost impulse novelties. Nestlé says both are proven to attract younger shoppers, who have a bit more money to spend, to the category. Also available is the new Rowntree’s Tub. Each tub contains a mix of Fruit Pastilles, Jelly Tots and Randoms. And while it is not a specific Halloween product, in customer trials last year 50% of the pack’s sales were made during Halloween.

Meanwhile, new from Mars Chocolate is a limited edition M&M’s product, available in treat size and More to Share packs. The new packs see M&M’s taking a new guise camouflaged in black, orange and green, the colours that are synonymous with Halloween.

Bep Dhaliwal, trade communications manager at Mars Chocolate UK says: "The limited edition pack M&M’s are a fun way to join in the Halloween spirit. M&M’s has a strong affiliation with Halloween with their characters, spontaneous fun and bright colours. The brand has had great success in the past with limited edition packs, including our Brazil themed M&M’s and those launched by the new Ms Brown character earlier this year."

Grim green

With popcorn still as popular as ever (currently worth £107.5m according to Nielsen), it should be no surprise that Butterkist is launching two limited editions: grim green sweet popcorn and gingerbread popcorn.

The company says grim green, which features bright green popcorn made with natural colours and flavours, is the first coloured popcorn to launch in major retailers. It has been developed following consumer research, which found that novelty products are key to driving consumer purchase at Halloween. The research further suggested that spooky coloured classic treats are particularly popular among consumers.

The eye-catching Halloween themed bag, which deviates from Butterkist’s classic red packs with a black bag and bright green pumpkin face, has strong shelf appeal and standout.

Meanwhile, the limited edition Gingerbread flavour popcorn represents another first, as it’s the first gingerbread popcorn product in the grocery channel. The sweet and spicy flavour aims to appeal to shoppers looking to experience something new within the popcorn market, as well as those who are seeking out novelty winter treats.

Anjna Mistry, senior brand manager at Butterkist, says: "Our first-to-the-market limited editions offer a fantastic opportunity for retailers to drive sales as we head into a time of year when consumers are looking to spend a little bit more on snacking and treating. These products deliver on taste and quality as well as satisfy customer demand for novelty and seasonal products."

Onto drinks, and kids’ favourite Robinson Fruit Shoot has a limited edition ’strawbrainy’ variant available for Halloween. The no added sugar drink is strawberry, apple & grape flavoured. In addition, it contains no artificial colours or flavourings but does have 11% real fruit juice.

Kirsty Hunter, brand director for stills and future brands at Britvic Soft Drinks, says the "enticing blend" has been created to excite existing consumers, while encouraging new shoppers to buy into the Robinsons Fruit Shoot range during the Halloween season.

Finally, AG Barr is advising retailers to maximise soft drinks sales this Halloween by making use of its fun, affordable products and spookily-themed pos material. "The British passion for Halloween has been steadily growing over the years and it now represents an unmissable sales opportunity," says Adrian Troy, head of marketing for AG Barr. "Creating theatre in-store is key when it comes to maximising sales around occasions and making use of pos material is a great way to catch shoppers’ attention.

"Displays can boost sales by up to 392% (AG Barr sales data)."

A wide range of Halloween-themed Barr and Irn-Bru pos including posters, dumpbins and standees, will be available to help retailers drive sales. Troy adds: "Creating spooky displays using our dedicated pos is a great way to maximise sales this Halloween and achieve frighteningly good profits."

retailer view

"Halloween is a great time to get involved with some in-store theatre, with lots of decorations and opportunities to captivate the shoppers. Sales have increased year-on-year with Halloween parties becoming more popular, but now we’ve got a good idea of the market, it’s about tweaking the range. The idea is to simplify the offer for the customer, while appealing to each need and price point without overdoing it.
"We are involved in the town’s Trick or Treat Trail which allows children to be involved in Halloween in a safe, controlled environment. Tokens are for sale at stores in the high street which allow children to go into participating stores and have a delve into their Trick-or-Treat bucket. It’s such a good idea that generates footfall and ensures safety for the children. We also provide stock at reduced price for those businesses who want to get involved."