Halloween: Retailers are missing this key trick on festivals

Shruti Tripathi Chopra
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Halloween looks set to serve up a treat for UK retailers this year with Brits estimated to spend £320m on costumes, sweet-filled cauldrons and of course, pumpkins.

But retailers, who are constantly haunted by rising costs and slim margins, are missing the trick by not making the most of the festival market. From M&S to Morrisons, retailers need to think beyond Christmas, Easter and Halloween to target shoppers.

Take Eid, for example. There are nearly 3m Muslims in the UK who are likely to celebrate the festival twice a year. Figures from the British Retail Consortium showed that like-for-like retail sales in June rose 1.2 per cent after a 0.5 per cent decline in May, due to Eid as well as the warm weather.

But how many retailers target Muslims in the run up to their festive periods? Perhaps retailers could follow in the footsteps of Uniqlo which launched a collection of hijabs last year.

Then there’s Diwali, the Indian festival of lights celebrated by 800,000 Hindus and 500,000 Sikhs in the UK ­– that’s 1.3m potential customers. Research by confectioner Ferrero found that more than 70 per cent of retailers agreed that they sold more chocolate boxes near Diwali and Eid. However, the same amount admitted they did not actively engage with customers around the occasion.

Read more: Trick or treat? Pumpkin prices fall by 20pc but 2018 could be a horror show

Another occasion that UK retailers overlook is China’s Single’s Day, the world’s biggest online shopping day of the year, which saw Chinese shoppers spending $17.8bn (£14.2bn) in 24 hours last year. Considering the Chinese love British brands, why aren’t more UK retailers exploring Chinese festivals as a revenue stream? To cash in on the festive spending, retailers can start small. Branches of national stores in Newham, which has a large Hindu and muslim population, could try introducing selected lines during Diwali or Eid.

Supermarkets could also do a better job of marketing certain types of products during celebratory periods. For example, Indians gift each other bags of almonds during Diwali. If an Asda or an M&S did a prominent almond offer or promotion during Diwali, that could lead to a jump in sales.

Halloween has occupied the marketing budgets and creative energies of major retailers for weeks. In a competitive sector, finding an edge is essential and the UK’s diverse population and proliferation of events could provide plenty of opportunities.

Read more: West End prepares for bumper Christmas sales, but expect a fall in footfall

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