How can retailers and shopping centres ensure a frighteningly successful Halloween?

October 25, 2016 ByStaff


Gone are the days when Halloween was a North American tradition, relatively uncelebrated in Europe. Over the past few years we’ve seen a marked growth in Halloween’s popularity globally, with many European countries embracing traditions such as fancy dress and trick-or-treating.

This is great news for retailers and shopping centres, as it opens up both new sales and promotional opportunities centred around the event. However, to enjoy a frighteningly successful Halloween, retail organisations need to know when shopper activity is likely to peak – which is why we’ve delved into our data cauldron, to crunch the numbers on Halloween footfall across Europe.


The good news for German retailers and shopping centres is that consumer footfall increases as Halloween draws closer; in 2015, Year-on-Year traffic improved by +4.18% and +2.39% respectively in the two weeks leading up to October 31st.

Given that the average family spends more than €25 per child on Halloween costumes, there is certainly an appetite amongst German consumers to celebrate All Hallows Eve.

In terms of how retail organisations capitalise on this desire for Halloween goods, the busiest footfall day during this period is actually the day of Halloween itself. However, October 31st fell on a Saturday last year, which will have also boosted retail activity. This year, Halloween falls on a Monday, and they therefore should be prepared for a busy weekend on 29th/30th October.


For some sectors, Halloween is a huge profit opportunity; around 20% of all fancy dress spend occurs in the build-up to October 31st, making it the country’s third most popular day for dressing up.

However, for the wider industry, retailers and shopping centres will have to work hard to generate spooktacular results around Halloween. In 2015, footfall actually declined in the three weeks leading up to Halloween compared to the previous year, dropping by -1.77% the week of the event. Retail traffic was also down -2.46% on the day itself, so retail businesses will need to be aggressive with their promotions if they want to ‘go big’ around Halloween marketing.

That being said, Halloween falls during the school holidays this year, on the Monday prior to France’s All Saints’ Day public holiday on 1st November. This could prove a welcome boost for retail footfall, as stores and shopping centres will be closed the next day.


Italy seems to be a nation with only a passing interest in Halloween, indicated by the stagnant footfall numbers in the weeks leading up to October 31st last year. In fact, during the actual week of Halloween, consumer activity declined by -6.01% Year-on-Year.

Over the past couple of years, retail activity took a further downturn on the day itself; in 2015, Halloween footfall declined by -11.64%. However, as with France, there will be a public holiday for All Saints’ Day on 1st November, and the shops being closed that day may give footfall a boost on October 31st.


Although Poland does not officially celebrate Halloween as a festival, there is a marked increase in footfall around the holiday, with over +1,000% growth in daily retail footfall on October 31st in both of the previous two years.

However, all is not actually as it seems. Like France and Italy, rather than going mad for Halloween, consumers are more likely to be stocking up ahead of the Wszystkich Swietych national holiday (All Saints Day) on November 1st, when shops are not allowed to open.

Therefore, retailers and shopping centres may be best off focusing their attention on optimising the shopper experience, to convert as many sales as possible on what is naturally going to be a very busy day for the Polish retail sector.


Halloween seems to be slowly winning the Portuguese over: after a significant -10.54%, drop in weekly footfall in 2014, the country recovered in 2015 to record a +0.71% increase during Halloween week last year.

However, there tends to be a slight upturn in activity on the day of the event, with retail traffic rising by +1.98% on October 31st last year and +6.67 the year before.

Portugal’s daily figures also contain a tale of the unexpected. Halloween fell on a Saturday last year, and many retailers’ gut instincts would be to predict an increase in daily footfall as a result. However, with the exception of Germany, every European nation we surveyed recorded a better performance in 2014, when Halloween fell on a Friday.


Halloween seems to be a growing holiday in Spain, as weekly footfall around the holiday increased +2.5% Year-on-Year in 2015, and +7.14% the year before.

Interestingly, the most active periods for retailers in 2015 was the weekend before Halloween with Saturday and Sunday registering increases of +13.01% and +16.44% respectively. This could indicate that as the holiday gains popularity, many people look to hit the shops in advance to prepare for their Halloween celebrations.

But before retailers and shopping centres charge ahead with week-ahead promotions, be aware that Halloween falls on a Monday this year; being so close to the weekend could upset the trend from previous years.


Of all the European regions, Halloween is most popular in the UK. It has now become the second biggest party night of the year after New Year’s Eve, worth £460 million to UK retail – a new spending record, set last year.

However, these impressive figures are more a case of greater spend amongst existing Halloween shoppers than converts wanting to celebrate. There has been no significant increase in weekly UK footfall over the last two years, with activity during the week featuring October 31st increasing by just +0.77% and +0.79% in 2014 and 2015 respectively.

Therefore, retailers and shopping centres in the UK need to focus on encouraging upselling among consumers that choose to celebrate Halloween, as this is where the best opportunity for profit lies.

To ensure your business has a frighteningly successful Halloween, you need to know when consumers are shopping with you during the build up to the event, to optimise your store or centre around accurate traffic and sales data.

ShopperTrak’s Retail Analytics Suite can provide a host of actionable insights that your front-line staff can use to make more profitable business decisions in real-time.



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