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Tuesday, Sep 26, 2023


SHELLY GARCIA Staff Reporter Since August, retailers have been stocking their shelves with trick or treat candy, Teletubbies costumes, Bill Clinton masks and the latest fright-night accessory, the Monica Lewinsky beret complete with its own wig all in hopes of cashing in on a holiday that’s become second only to Christmas for retail sales. This selling season promises to be among the strongest yet because Halloween falls on a Saturday. “Sales drop off somewhat when it’s on a Tuesday or Wednesday night,” said Bruce Gold, regional manager for Spirit, Halloween Superstore, one of a number of retailers that only open for the holiday. “But the Halloween industry overall in the last few years has seen tremendous growth.” Spirit expanded into Los Angeles for the first time this year, adding units in Encino, Oxnard and Torrance. The move is part of a 15-store expansion this year alone, and Gold said he expects a 10 percent to 20 percent sales increase for the 50-store chain, excluding the new units. “Halloween is no longer a kid’s holiday,” Gold said. “Our parents made it extremely interesting for us, and it has carried over into our adulthood. I think that’s why Halloween has become such a major holiday.” Halloween has become a major industry with its own trade show and retail sales estimated at $4 billion annually, according to the National Retail Federation. The National Halloween, Costume and Party Show last year attracted 1,650 exhibitor booths, up from 80 when it opened 15 years ago. And the national trade publication to the industry, Party & Paper Retailer, increased its Halloween coverage from six pages to 16 in the last seven years. “Plus we do a Halloween supplement on costumes,” said Trisha McMahon Drain, editor in chief of the Norwalk, Conn.-based magazine. “Halloween and all the related industries are exploding.” Not only do some retailers earn a year’s worth of sales in the two-month season, Halloween accounts for the single largest category of sales at party-supply retailers. “It’s like their Christmas,” said Mark Passis, manager for the 15th Annual National Halloween, Costume and Party Show. Fueling much of that growth for independent retailers is a relatively new category of merchandise, electronic special effects for Halloween parties. At Spirit, Halloween Superstores, shoppers typically spend $100 to $1,000 to send chills up the spines of their guests, said Gold, the chain’s regional manager. Then there are the costumes. Each year different movies and television shows influence the trends for children and adults. This year’s best sellers include Teletubbies and a getup based on the movie “Scream.” “For adults, the ’50s is big poodle skirts and beehive wigs a la ‘Grease’ ” said Julie Goldman, director of purchasing for Halloween Adventure, a seasonal store with its Western headquarters in Canoga Park. “Adults like it because they don’t have to wear a mask.” Some costumes are perennial favorites, like the Freddy Krueger and Michael Myers, characters from slasher movies “Nightmare on Elm Street” and the “Halloween” series. Then there is this year’s most anticipated best seller, the Monica Lewinsky beret and wig. “That’s going to blow right out,” Goldman said. Some retailers, particularly the independents, worry that the large chains will chip away at their sales. As Halloween sales have grown, retailers from K-Mart to Ralph’s have added to their offerings, in many cases selling items that compete directly with the smaller chains. “Everybody sells Halloween today, from supermarkets to drug stores, you name it,’ said Jim McDevitt, assistant to the director of retail operations at Halloween Adventure, which has 16 stores. Big chains can amortize their overhead costs over the entire year, but stores like Halloween Adventure that open for just a few months cannot. “The same store is offering lower prices because their operating expenses are lower,” McDevitt said. “They don’t always sell the same quality, but they do a lot of business.”

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