From Monster Mash to Holiday Dash

November 2, 2017  | By Greg Earl

If you’re like us at the Ketner Group, you were probably on edge throughout the entire month of October, constantly looking over your shoulder for frights, fears, ghouls, etc. The good news is that Halloween is now over, so we can relax and enjoy our trick-or-treating spoils, including candy corn, candy apples and nickels from the elderly woman around the corner.

Yet, as the spookiest time of the year ends, the retail industry is approaching the scary unknown: the holiday season. The biggest shopping time of the year says a lot about the health of the industry. How is the holiday season shaping up? And what can this year’s Halloween spending tell us about what to expect for the holidays?

Halloween Spending

Starting with perhaps the most important aspect of Halloween, HIS Markit forecasted candy sales to rise 4.1% from last year, reaching a impressive $4.1 billion. Additionally, NRF’s annual Halloween survey expected total spending on Halloween this year to reach $9.1 billion during the same time period, up from $8.4 billion last year.

This is promising news – if consumers are spending more on Halloween, then we can expect increased spending during the holiday season. In fact, NRF expects holiday retail sales to increase by up to 4% in 2017, totaling $682 billion, compared to $655.8 billion last year.

What to Expect from Consumers

After all the tricks and treats, consumers are now gearing up for the holidays in a big way. The NPD Group found that shoppers will start their shopping early this year. In fact, it will potentially be the first time that more U.S. consumers start shopping in the middle of the season (around Thanksgiving weekend and Cyber Monday) than later (early December).

In terms of shopping destinations, 2017 could also be the first time that Americans spend more money online than in-store, according to Deloitte. Meanwhile, a study by IFTTT states that about 57% of shoppers will do the majority of their holiday spending at a mass retailer like Walmart or Amazon. Overall, it’s clear that customers will be shopping in droves through both online and offline channels.

How Retailers are Preparing

Big brands like Walmart and Amazon are already announcing their holiday sales (and even in-store parties) which means it’s officially time for retailers to prepare for the holidays. We’re seeing plenty of stores hire seasonal employees– an expected every year. However, are retailers investing in new technology to prepare for the mass influx of customers?

According to a survey conducted by Brightpearl, about 58% of retailer and wholesaler decision makers currently invest in technology to manage sales spikes. 35% of those surveyed are ‘very likely’ to adopt a new solution to help effectively streamline back-office and inventory processes. While these are promising strides, Brightpearl also estimates that poor technology decisions leading into the holidays could cost retailers more than $300,000 in lost profit. Brands need to be prepared with adequate technology that won’t fail during the holiday rush.

It appears that this holiday season could be a cheerful one for the retail industry. As such, it’s essential that brands are prepared to meet customer demands with efficient technology to stay ahead of the competition. Without doing so, the real frights will come in the form of lost customers and profits – a reality that is far spookier than any Halloween lore.

*Disclaimer: I don’t actually like candy corn