A little birdie told me that Halloween merch is already creeping into the retail stores. While there may be a desire to throttle the messenger, since nobody likes ultra-aggressive commercialism, for Halloweenophiles, this news might as well have been heralded in by silver trumpets. This is the unofficial start of the Halloween season!
Wait, Halloween in July? Why the heck are they starting so damn early? What’s the rush? Indeed, the rush may be simple math. The National Retail Federation estimated that Americans spent $9.1 billion on Halloween last year, up from $8.4 billion in the previous year, with $2.7 billion spent on decorations alone. Anyone who works or has worked in retail knows the need to get sales into the black, as early in the year as possible, is much desired. According to NRF’s annual Halloween survey, over a third of Halloween shoppers start in September or earlier. Roughly 30% of households find inspiration within physical retail stores.
No one likes empty shelves, so retailers always look ahead. Thus, the term “holiday creep” is born. Holiday creep, which is more associated with Christmas, but can be used interchangeably with all holidays, like Halloween, Valentines, Easter, etc., only increases year to year, so, retailers will often cater to those shoppers in hopes of moving merchandise sooner than the Halloween season, mostly because the bigger holiday season follows right behind.
In fact, those retailers spend a great deal of energy, time and money, fine-tuning their sales process and strategizing their local marketing efforts and inventories for the region. Weather, location and pop culture all have an effect on Halloween sales. They have learned over the years, discounted seasonal items, collectibles and blow-out back stock almost always sells out early. This in turn allows retailers to offer newer merchandise or restock old favorites, at full price, and sell even more during the months of September and October.
There’s another really good logical reason by Halloween merchandise appears in stores early, and one could argue the term holiday creep shouldn’t even apply here. Anyone who frequents craft stores like Michaels or Joann’s understands that the supply chain must start earlier in the season. Artisans, designers, DIYs and other craftspeople who create and sell their own Halloween merchandise, can’t wait to get product in September. To be ready by October, their work starts now. The same goes with Christmas, shoppers need to craft their items before the holiday season in order to sell in the holiday season. That’s why Halloweenophiles, stake out their local Michaels and craft stores during the summer, we long for the glorious warm hues of Fall to first appear and caress our demented little souls.
Halloween creep may be an annoying reminder to some people that time is flying by and the holidays will soon be here, but until the backlash is louder than the ringing of cash registers, holiday creep in general is unlikely to change. If you encounter anyone freaking out over that fact, kindly remind them this is a totally natural progression in our capitalist society, which benefits the entire country overall, relax and enjoy the fact that we Americans get to celebrate holidays at all.