Halloween pop-up stores fill empty mall spaces for six weeks.
There are some sure signs of autumn: the leaves change colors, the morning temperatures drop, and Halloween costume stores pop up in a mall near you.
Those Halloween stores are actually called “pop-ups’’, a growing retail trend in the United States, as mall owners try to fill empty space temporarily and retailers take advantage of seasonal sales opportunities.
Spirit and Halloween City are the two most well-known Halloween pop-up brands nationally, and their popularity has grown to about 1,706 in the country this year, according to IBISWorld. That is a 30 percent growth in the market since 2009.
Halloween City has been operating stores since 1977, and this year put up more than 400 pop-ups across the country. Spirit, which is owned by Spencer’s Gifts, opened its first Halloween store in 1983 and has over 1,000 locations during the 2013 season.
From a business standpoint, Halloween pop-ups make sense for both sides. Because the Halloween store companies have much of the same inventory year after year (witches, princesses, vampires, zombies), the time required to get a store up is very quick. For mall owners, Halloween pop-up stores bring customers into the mall, where they just might find something else to shop for.
For many Americans living in urban areas, the appearance of the Halloween pop-up store marks the beginning of the Halloween season.
“I think the reason they are so hugely popular is that Halloween is really a family-oriented holiday, and the entire family gets involved in decoration and costumes,’’ said Christina Norsig, CEO and Founder of PopUpInsider, a national online exchange for temporary real estate. “That’s why they are so desirable for mall owners; everybody in the family gets involved, and it gets everybody in the family into the mall.”
Since 2009, Norsig has been matching landlords who have space inventory with businesses that are either seasonal or uncertain of how their businesses will take off initially.
Norsig said the Halloween stores usually pay the same rate as any other store in a mall, pro-rated for the approximately two moths they will be open (six weeks prior to Halloween, two weeks after to sell off inventory at clearance prices).
The National Retail Federation expects Halloween participation to be down this year, from 170 million in 2012 to 158 million in 2013. The government shutdown and continued concern about the economy are suggested reasons for the downturn.
But retailers aren’t so sure this will be a down year. Since Oct. 31 is a Thursday, it could boost sales.
“That’s going to mean there are two weekends for Halloween parties, the weekend before, then more parties Nov. 1 and 2,’’ Ray Smith, a district manager for Spirit, told the Richmond, Va., Times-Dispatch. “That means new opportunities for costumes and party goods.”
Halloween falls behind the December holidays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day and Easter in terms of retail sales, according to the NSF, but it is still a significant time for retailers and mall owners.
“Unlike some of those other holidays, schools get involved, too, with holiday parties and parades and such,’’ Norsig said. “It is an engine onto itself. It’s like the wedding industry.”
Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.
In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.
McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.
McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy Buffett and all things Disney.