Retail

How Millennials Are Propelling Halloween To New Retail Heights

Retailers are set to clean up this Halloween, as 2017 is looking to be a record-setter for consumer spending during the holiday. With 179 million Americans planning to celebrate, up from 171 million last year, sales are projected to surpass those of 2016, which itself set records.

In fact, holiday spending is expected to hit $9.1 billion, up 8.3 percent from 2016, and spending per household is expected to rise to $86.13 compared to last year’s $82.93.

That growth appears to be driven by millennials, with responses to a recent Citibank poll indicating survey participants between the ages of 18 and 36 expect to spend 2.5 times more than their closest cohorts on Halloween-related merchandise. Increased millennial spending comes despite the fact that the demographic is the one that most needs to save money, CitiBank noted in the article.

“Halloween is no longer just for the kids and those with kids,” wrote Allison Zeller, director of research for the National Retail Federation (NRF).

A recent NRF survey indicates 22.7 percent of Americans surveyed intend to visit a haunted house this season. Another 34.5 percent will host or attend a Halloween-themed party, and it’s expected that many of these participants will be adults between 21 and 34 years of age.

So, why are millennials so fascinated by a holiday that was once largely thought to be for children? There are a few possible reasons, the NRF noted. One possibility is the increased influence of popular culture on the holiday, with more than 34 percent of consumers between 18 and 24 years of age indicating pop culture will partially dictate their costume choices.

For whatever reason, it’s no secret that millennials are infatuated with the late October celebration. Although the Los Angeles Times reports theme parks and other pop-up attractions have only recently glommed on to the trend, haunted houses and other seasonal festivals have begun complementing their attractions — once targeted primarily at children — with amenities more popular among adults.

Liquor and beer manufacturers are taking notice as well. According to VinePair, searches for the terms “beer” and “wine” have been spiking in October since at least 2004, and the terms remain current through the rest of the holiday season. And, because millennials represent approximately 32 percent of spirit consumption, though they only comprise about one-quarter of the total U.S. population over age 21, it makes sense that makers of adult beverages lean into the holiday.

It’s no wonder, then, that so many alcohol manufacturers and retailers run Halloween promotions — and not just regional microbrews or independent liquor makers, either, but major brands like Sam Adams, Jägermeister and Svedka, according to VinePair.

“Halloween is a huge occasion for 21- to 29-year-olds,” said Christopher Dunn, Mast-Jägermeister’s U.S. brand manager, in an interview with VinePair. “Millennials, in particular, are spending big.”

And, with consumer holiday sales on adult costumes rising, plenty of liquor brands are getting into that market, as well. Some of the liquor-themed regalia on offer includes outfits modeled on Fireball Whiskey, the aforementioned Jägermeister and even Four Loko.

Liquor sales and adult costumes aren’t the only things trending upward this Halloween, either. Spending on pet costumes has doubled since 2010, with many events across the country sponsoring costume contests specifically for dogs and cats. A whopping 16 percent of Americans expect to dress their pets for the holiday, according to the NRF survey.

With gains propelled primarily by millennial spending, Halloween retail is setting new records year-over-year, and there’s little to indicate those trends won’t continue. Most of Generation Z, the age cohort born after 1995, isn’t even old enough to drink yet, but it’s already a generation comfortable flexing its economic muscle.

If the next generation embraces the holiday with the same fervor as millennials, there’s no telling how much larger Halloween could grow.

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