A few weeks ago Instapundit asked the question:
- "Is it just me, or are people making a bigger deal out of Halloween than they used to?"
No, it's not just a law professor in Tennessee noticing Halloween. It's happening all across America. Halloween has become a big deal in the United States. Halloween sales are expected to reach US$3.12 Billion this year, according to the National Retail Federation.
A survey by the Macerich Company (a REIT which invests in shopping malls) says that a majority of Americans (59%) plan to participate in Halloween this year.
That's a pretty amazing figure, which means more people will be participating in Halloween than are likely to vote. Only 60% of registered voters are expected to come out to vote for the leader of the free world — and 60% voter turnout would be close to a record in recent years.
This unprecedented interest comes to a holiday that started out 25 centuries ago in Celtic Ireland, where it marked the end of harvest time and the start of winter. In medieval times the holiday coincided with the eve of All Saints' Day. The name "Halloween" comes from medieval England's All Hallows' eve (Old Eng. hallow=saint).
In places across America — like Des Moines, Iowa and Akron, Ohio — the retail landscape is changing as a result of the interest in Halloween.
First of all, it is driving a trend toward large superstores opening seasonally just to sell Halloween goods. This report by Patt Johnson of the Des Moines Register summarizes it:
- "No longer are discount stores and small seasonal shops enough for some fright-night fans. This year in Des Moines, at least four superstores have opened, joining mass merchandisers and other shops that offer goods for Halloween, Oct. 31.
'People are really getting into it,' said Mike Fitzgibbons, who operates two Spirit Halloween Superstores. 'And it's not just kids, but adults, too.'"
This trend toward large superstores opening up for temporary sales is sure to change the dynamics for smaller costume shops and smaller retailers. On the one hand, these superstores can be stiff competition for smaller, local independents. In typical "big box" fashion, with their huge sourcing power, they offer a large selection at prices most smaller retailers cannot afford to compete with.