Halloween 2017: Costume And eCommerce Trends


Halloween is a big event for many retailers, whether they’re seasonal pop-ups or eCommerce mainstays. And spending on the holiday looks like it’s going to break records this year.

That said, there may be a few shoppers drifting into the last week of October looking for some last-minute costume ideas. Lucky for them, Google Trends has suggestions.

The search firm is using its data to compile a sortable list of popular (and less popular) costumes across the U.S. Through a service called Frightgeist, results can be sorted by popularity and by region, so users can find out exactly how people are getting spooky from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon.

There’s even a “costume wizard” that lets users adjust and personalize suggested costumes to suit their tastes. They can specify their preferences along a “spookiness” axis, from terrifying to innocuous, and can also decide whether they want their suggestions to be more or less unique.

Not everyone wants to be the umpteenth Wonder Woman at the office Halloween party, although others might. And still more people like to keep it classic, with costume stalwarts like zombies or ninjas. Regardless of choice, there’s likely a pop-up nearby where consumers can finalize their last-minute purchases.

With that in mind, what costumes can revelers across the country expect to see this Halloween, and where are they buying them?

Costumes Trending Up This Halloween

Clearly the most important trend of Halloween 2017, DC’s Wonder Woman is the most searched-for costume across the country. Titular heroine of the second highest grossing movie of the year, only lagging behind Beauty and the Beast, Wonder Woman is trending sky-high among women with a college degree, according to marketing intelligence firm Hitwise.

A Hitwise profile of Wonder Woman searchers suggests that 57 percent are women between the ages of 18 and 34. As a group, they tend to have household incomes in excess of $100,000, and their other search queries include “Justice League” and “Supernatural season 13.”

The other big costume story of the season seems to be the result of another hit movie, this time Stephen King’s creepy clown vehicle “IT.” Where Wonder Woman searchers trended female, searches for IT’s Pennywise trended 53 percent male.

The men searching for clown costumes tend to be 18 to 34 as well, but as a group, they’re more downscale. Hitwise data suggests that “some college” is the most common level of education, and that searchers typically have incomes in the $20,000 to $39,999 range.

Costumes Trending Down

Pokémon GO doesn’t have quite the same costume cache in Halloween 2017 that it did in 2016. Last year, the app was so popular it lead to a measurable rise in mobile charger sales, but Hitwise data indicates that Pokémon-related costumes are trending way down in 2017, with Squirtle and Jigglypuff losing ground to the likes of more relevant cultural references.

There isn’t a single Pokémon-related query in the Frightgeist top 50, placing the Nintendo franchise squarely below more relevant terms, like “ninja” or “deer.”

Shifts in popular culture seem to rule the day in determining which characters will dominate come the end of October. According to Hitwise, other searches that lost ground this year include Activision Blizzard’s 2016 video game “Overwatch” and 2016’s meme-culture phenomenon, “Harambe.”

Despite Hitwise suggesting that Walking Dead character Michonne is a less popular costume choice than last year, zombies are still comfortably within Google’s top 10 searches.

eCommerce Is Cleaning Up

As with other sectors of the retail space, internet retailers are making huge gains this Halloween season. Hitwise data suggests the amount of traffic going to major online marketplaces from costume searches has grown significantly since 2016.

That isn’t true across the board, however. The sites of brick-and-mortar chains like Target, Party City and Spirit Halloween are trending downward. According to Hitwise data, downstream traffic for Target and Party City shrank by 52 and 41 percent, respectively.

There’s more good news than bad when it comes to online retail, however.

Halloweencostumes.com is leading the pack when it comes to downstream traffic from costume searches. The site showed enormous growth this year over last, at least in terms of visits, as traffic increased by 430 percent.

Online auction site and retailer eBay is showing a downstream traffic increase of 202 percent this year, which is good news in the wake of its Q3 earnings report.

Amazon is also doing well, with Hitwise indicating that downstream traffic is up 107 percent this year over last. Announcing seasonal gift shops for its Handmade marketplace earlier this week, the company is looking to make further inroads into the annual Halloween market in the future.