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Survey: Halloween-related spending to exceed $11 billion

BY Marianne Wilson

NEW YORK — Nearly three-quarters (74%) of U.S. households plan to spend money on Halloween-related items, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers Halloween Consumer Spending Survey. The total for Halloween-related spending is expected to be approximately $11.3 billion in 2014.
 
Excluding households that don’t plan to spend anything on Halloween, the average household plans to spend $125 this year on candy, costumes, decorations or other Halloween-related items. Eight-out-of-10 households plan to spend the same or more on Halloween compared to last year, with
 
Similar to ICSC’s back-to-school shopping survey, the Halloween survey indicates that sales and promotions will be the biggest factor in the decision to shop at a particular location for Halloween-related items. When asked what influences them the most when choosing a store for Halloween, 64% of consumers said sales or the lowest price, 31% said the ability to physically see, touch or try on the merchandise and 29% said convenience/one-stop shopping/good parking.
 
The focus on price, along with an interest in one-stop shopping, could account for discount stores claiming the top spot this Halloween: 34% of spending will take place at discount stores; behind discounters, supermarkets are expected to grab 18% of purchases; followed by clothing and costume stores (13%); drugstore chains (11%); and wholesale clubs (9%).
 
Overall, according to the survey, more than 90% of households will select brick-and-mortar retail stores as the preferred venue for Halloween shopping, and online is expected to see a 7% share of purchases.
 
Researching and planning ahead online before buying in-store continues to be an integral part of the shopping experience this fall, with 41% of households planning to participate in ‘webrooming’ – researching online before purchasing Halloween-related items in physical stores.
 
In addition to being a significant shopping destination for Halloween-related items, shopping centers and malls continue to evolve into community hubs. Out of the parents planning to take their children trick-or-treating this year, 17% will participate in a Halloween event sponsored by a mall or shopping center in 2014, in addition to more traditional neighborhood trick-or-treating and school events. The top costume for boys this year will be a superhero and the top costume for girls in 2014 will be a princess.
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Safeway hopes to buy out senior notes

BY Dan Berthiaume

PLEASANTON, Calif. — Safeway is offering to pay cash consent fees to holders of three series of senior notes due in 2017, 2018 and 2019. Note holders who accept the fees would release Safeway of the obligation to repurchase the notes at 1% interest when its expected fourth quarter merger with Albertson’s LLC occurs.
 
The consent fee offer expires Oct. 3, 2014. Holders of a majority of the principal of each series of notes must accept the consent fees for Safeway to be able to pay them out. In this case, Safeway will not have to repurchase any notes from holders who do not accept the consent fees.
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Survey: Online retailers focusing on customer-facing services for holiday season

BY Dan Berthiaume

KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa. — Online retailers are prioritizing immediate investments in customer-facing tactics such as price, marketing and customer service over strategic infrastructure for the 2014 holiday season. According to the 2014 Holiday Retail Audit, a U.S. survey of more than 1,000 ecommerce and marketing professionals from retailers with revenues of $5 million to $250 million conducted by EBay Enterprise, retailers identified a renewed focus in marketing efforts.
 
Survey results show that retailers have been investing in tools with greater data capture and analytical capabilities, including social media (29%), email promotions (22%) and search engine optimization (12%). These investments also help retailers feel better prepared to capture in-store consumer data (87%).
 
Large retailers reported heightened concern around data security at their company (65%), while 77% have not experienced a security breach to date.
 
Although respondents revealed mobile commerce as their top competitive weakness and the area of infrastructure in which they are least confident, 68% did not express plans for new or continued investments in mobile infrastructure for holiday 2014. One in three online retailers cited mobile commerce as an investment priority for holiday 2014, ranking ninth, signaling a lack of urgency in solidifying a long-term mobile infrastructure and strategy despite mobile commerce continuing to be the fastest growing segment of ecommerce.
 
Fifty-one percent of retailers viewed Amazon as a direct competitor heading into the 2014 holiday season, citing Amazon having a perceived competitive edge in mobile commerce (60%), inventory (56%), shipping (54%) and returns (44%).
 
While 45% of large online retailers detailed plans to invest in global expansion for holiday 2014, the investment priorities contradicted market opportunity. This study revealed the top markets for global ecommerce expansion were Canada (23%), followed by the U.K. (16%), China (15%), Australia (7%) and Mexico (5%), respectively.
 
Large online retailers cited a lack of reliable local partners (33%), diminished market demand (32%) and hampered inventory capabilities (31%) as top barriers for pursuing new global opportunities. Although Canada provides easy entry into global expansion, the market opportunity globally is immense and retailers have options to help them take that first step.
 
“The 2014 Holiday Retail Audit underlined the short-term focus retailers have on investing in tools that allow them to compete with their peers,” said Steve Denton, VP marketing solutions. “Nimble retailers need to be laser focused on consumer data as they head into executing holiday strategy in order to map investments back to ROI while maintaining strong margins. There is still time to implement display, retargeting, attribution and social solutions capable of ensuring that a retailer’s brand message reaches new and lost prospects with commitment to the consumer’s privacy.”
 
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