Oct 7

Clinton, Trump provide treat for Halloween retailers Houston Chronicle

Their poll numbers have gone up and down, but Donald Trump holds a 10-point lead over Hillary Clinton in one notable demographic: Halloween partygoers.

While young trick-or-treaters are looking to be heroic this year, with superhero costumes the preferred get-up, adults, as in most presidential election years, want to spoof politics with masks representing the candidates.

A survey conducted by specialty retailer Spirit Halloween, in collaboration with Harris Poll, found that 55 percent of adult participants said they would dress up as Trump, and 45 percent as Clinton. Thirty-nine percent said they wanted to dress like Trump “to be funny” and 31 percent said they chose Clinton because they “like her.” Thirty-two percent said they wanted to “mock” Trump with their mask, compared with 16 percent who wanted to mock Clinton.

Leading sales at Spirit Halloween is the “Cry Baby Trump” mask, spokeswoman Trisha Lombardo said in a statement.

Trump masks also are outselling Clinton ones at the local Party Boy, said store owner Bob Wright.

With the election providing a solid source of sales, retailers nationwide and in the Houston market are gearing up for a spooktacular holiday shopping season.

The National Retail Federation expects total Halloween spending to reach approximately $8.4 billion this year, the highest in the group’s 11-year history of tracking such sales. Americans are projected to spend $3.1 billion on costumes, $2.5 billion on candy, $2.4 billion for decorations and $390 million on greeting cards. Much of the spending is expected to happen within the first two weeks of October.

“Retailers are preparing for the day by offering a wide variety of options in costumes, decorations and candy, while being aggressive with their promotions to capture the most out of this shopping event,” president and CEO of the retail group Matthew Shay said in a statement.

Though the association doesn’t see a direct correlation between spending on Halloween and during the huge winter holidays that include Thanksgiving and Christmas, it predicts a stable national economy and higher employment will benefit both. The group expects winter holiday spending to rise 3.6 percent, to $655.8 billion.

Local retail analyst Jason Baker said that if consumers really do spend a record amount on Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas could provide a treat.

“Retailers should read that statistic and pray it comes true,” he said.

Andrew Scarborough, co-founder of PriceWaiter, a site that runs e-commerce business for brick-and-mortar retailers, anticipates Halloween spending to surpass $10 billion by 2018. He expects online shopping for both costumes and candy to lead the sales growth.

“Consumer confidence in buying online continues to rise,” Scarborough said.

Within the Houston market of PriceWaiter’s network of retailers, Scarborough said, there’s already been a 17 percent increase in orders from online shoppers from last year.

Yet brick-and-mortar locations have much to gain this year as well. According to the National Retail Federation’s survey, 47 percent of consumers will shop at discount stores for Halloween goodies, 26 percent at grocery stores and supermarkets, 23 percent at department stores, 22 percent online and 36 percent at specialty Halloween and costume stores, which is up from 33 percent last year.

Baker said he’s seen an increase not only in the number but also in the size of inventory of these specialty stores in the Houston area over the years.

Spirit Halloween has doubled its locations in the Houston market to 22 this year, Lombardo said. At Party Boy, Wright said, more than 800 costumes are ready to be picked off the wall with an extra 60,000 costumes available in the rental department and eight registers open to help get costumers in and out.

To address the online competition, many physical retailers are offering special promotions and uniquely haunting experiences.

The staff at the Halloween Express Houston off Westheimer and Gessner has been prepping for the holiday by doing television and radio promotions, offering 10 percent coupons for costumes and beefing up their Trail of Terror 2 mini-haunted house showroom, store manager Peter Mendez said. The showroom allows shoppers to interact with animated props and house decorations to help them decide on which ghosts and goblins to take home.

Mendez said sales at the site have gone up each year with a line wrapping around the store each year on days leading up to Oct. 31.

Wright, who says he’s set for a good sales season this Halloween, is offering a 2-for-1

ticket promotion until Oct. 15 for entry to Party Boy’s haunted house, Nightmare on the Bayou.

Spirit Halloween shoppers can follow the company’s social media accounts and sign up for email offers and discounts. Customers at Spirit Halloween locations can also interact with their animated displays featuring the howling werewolf, swinging scarecrow and chilling clock tower.

Though families continue to shop for their trick or treaters and family photos to post on social media, much of the spending on costumes comes from adults, which makes Houston a prime market for retailers.

“They party in this town,” Wright said.

Original article can be viewed here