A recent poll shows the spookiest holiday of the year may bring a bit of needed relief to both consumers and retailers.
A recent poll shows the spookiest holiday of the year may bring a bit of needed relief to both consumers and retailers. According to the National Retail Federation's (NRF) Halloween Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, 64.5 percent of polled consumers plan to celebrate the holiday this year, compared to 58.7 last year. They plan to spend an average of $66.54 on the holiday, up from $64.82 one year ago. Total Halloween spending this year is estimated to reach $5.77 billion.
“We do quite a bit for Halloween,” says Theresa Torrealba, head decorator at Great Dane Baking Co., Los Alamitos, Calif. “This year, it seems that the cupcake pull apart cakes are the hot item, as people can get the appearance of a shaped cake without having to pay the price.” Individual cupcakes and brownie “pops” decorated as costumed teddy bears are also popular items. Torrealba also does a gingerbread haunted house and various other holiday-oreinted items, but the individually-sized items are the most popular this year.
“Though the economy is struggling, Halloween sales may be a bright spot for retailers this fall,” said Tracy Mullin, NRF president and C.E.O. “Consumers — who have been anxious and uncertain for the past several months — may be looking at Halloween as an opportunity to forget the stresses of daily life and just have fun.”
This year's survey results are reminiscent of 2002 Halloween data. Though consumers at the time were uncertain about the economy and a host of geopolitical factors, Halloween spending was strong. Many consumers at the time saw Halloween as a way to let loose during an otherwise tense period. NRF expects to see some of the same patterns this year for Halloween, as evidenced by the fact that the number of people who plan to celebrate is up and that people plan to spend moderately more than a year ago.
For 29 years, customers of Merritt's Bakery, Tulsa, Okla., regularly remarked about the aromas in the bakery. But now that Merritt's does its baking in a single central location, those in-store aromas have disappeared from retail locations without ovens. “The lack of fresh bakery smells can be detrimental to any baker operating a cold spot,” says Larry Merritt, president of Merritt's Bakery.
At a Texas Restaurant Association show in Houston, Merritt and his wife sniffed out a solution — scent machines. They now have one scent machine in each of their four retail locations.
“The machines have produced the results I was looking for,” Merritt says. “The new birthday cake scent is wonderful, and again my customers are commenting about the fresh-baked aromas in my stores.”
Cleanliness is key
Consumer perceptions of cleanliness affect retail buying decisions, according to a M/A/R/C® Research study. The study found 46 percent of consumers consider shopping in a clean environment to be extremely important. Grocery stores could see the largest impact on sales, where 18 percent of shoppers will stop shopping at a particular store if it is perceived as an unclean environment.
“A positive shopping experience is what consumers want and is what keeps them coming back to particular retailers,” said Nicole Kusha with M/A/R/C Research. “A store's cleanliness plays a major role in their overall experience and should not be taken lightly, as it essentially influences the bottom line.”
Because in-store bakeries often have production spaces in full view of customers, it's important for bakery managers to be aware of customer perceptions.