Halloween 2021 eCommerce Results Are In

Halloween 2021 eCommerce Results Are In

The pandemic ruined many Halloween plans for consumers–and retailers–in 2020. Trick-or-treating and Halloween parties declined in some places and were banned in others. After a year of recovery and widespread vaccinations, experts anticipated a massive boom in 2021 Halloween shopping from consumers planning to celebrate Halloween in full force.

Households with children wanting to Trick-or-Treat in style, and they started shopping early. In many cases, retailers responded to increased consumer demand for Halloween-related items by bringing in Halloween products earlier–as early as late August.

In March 2021, NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay anticipated annual retail growth of 8.2% for 2021–a welcome dose of optimism after a tumultuous 2020. Additionally, the NRF expected record spending on Halloween items for 2021 totaling over $10 billion–including $3 billion on candy, $3 billion on costumes, and $3 billion on decorations–up from $8.05 billion in 2020. 

Additionally, according to Phil Rist of Prosper Insights, “Not only are those with children intending to spend more on Halloween-related items like costumes, they are also getting a kick-start on their shopping, with more than half planning to start their shopping in September or earlier.”

Finally, the results are in. So how did brands do during the important holiday of Halloween 2021?

Retail and Ecommerce Performance During Halloween 2021

Physical retail did well in all Halloween categories, due in part to high demand and supply chain challenges. These breakdowns allowed physical stores to sell completely out of stock on many costumes and decorations. Greeted with empty shelves in local stores, many consumers completed their Halloween shopping online. As a result, many eCommerce brands saw sales growth in Halloween decorations and apparel.

Shoppers started early. August saw Halloween sales growth in costumes of 38% and sales growth in candy of 29%. Notably, pet costumes saw a sales growth of 124%!

The momentum carried through September and the early weeks of October. Instacart saw a 5% growth in online candy sales. Hershey’s reported “a very strong Halloween season, the biggest that we’ve ever had,” partly fueled by online sales through Walmart and MikMak. Even with the return on in-person shopping, many consumers opted for the convenience of online Halloween shopping.

While public health concerns and convenience are driving eCommerce growth for Halloween sales, another factor is contributing: the supply chain. Shocked by empty shelves, consumers completed their Halloween shopping earlier, and online––a trend likely to continue into the holiday season, even as in-person retail continues to grow.

ECommerce brands listed their Halloween costumes, candy, decorations, and household items early and ran discounts and marketing campaigns to drive early sales and capture Halloween excitement. That strategy represented a bold but wise move.

Seasonal marketing starts with Halloween, but it only gets bigger from there. So what does Halloween 2021 eCommerce performance mean for holiday 2021?

What eCommerce brands should expect after Halloween

Bring on the Pumpkin spice. While Pumpkin Spice was already on people’s minds before Halloween candy this year, consumers’ thoughts have pivoted from trick-or-treating towards Thanksgiving and Black Friday. This year, Pumpkin Spice is everywhere, a solid indicator that consumers are excited about fall and eager to decorate their homes.

This reality means that eCommerce brands should be promoting their holiday collections––along with their standard merchandise––in full force right now. Black Friday has consumed the month of November, and consumers are hunting for deals on everything. They’re excited to get together for November and December holidays, and they’re making up for experiences they missed out on in 2020.

Analysts project a holiday retail increase of 3% and holiday eCommerce growth of 11.3%. Consumers seek immersive digital shopping experiences, a wider variety than they can find on local shelves, and lower prices by buying direct.

Prepare your funding for Holiday 2021

Halloween 2021 drove record revenues for eCommerce brands everywhere. Savvy brands are using their Halloween success to fund their Holiday 2021 efforts. The 2021 holiday is projected to be huge as Americans plan to spend more and make up for lost holiday experiences from 2020. It’s essential for brands to proactively secure their funding before it’s too late.

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Alison Sperling
Alison is the Director of Marketing at Payability. She has 10+ years of experience in marketing helping small businesses and startups find new tools to grow their business. Prior to Payability, Alison started the marketing team at Stack Overflow. Alison completed an MBA with a concentration in Finance from Syracuse University in 2011. She volunteers with several cat rescue organizations.

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