With all the spooky sweeties and devilish delights listed over the next couple of pages, it's clear to see that Halloween now has its fangs firmly into the UK.

In fact, according to AC Nielsen, the market for Halloween-branded confectionery has grown by 50% in the past five years, making it the third largest seasonal opportunity for c-store retailers after Christmas and Easter.

As Hancocks purchasing director Jonathan Summerley says, there are three quite distinct purchasing groups for retailers to cater for.

"During Halloween you see adults purchasing confectionery for the inevitable trick or treaters; adults buying items for a children's Halloween party; and, of course, children buying spooky and fun pocket-money items," he says.

Retailers with a few spare minutes could make a mint by making up budget trick or treat bags, while shoppers seeking branded bags should be thrilled by the raft of ghoulish goodies launched by the manufacturers this year. Haribo offers scary ready-made foam and jelly sweet mixes including a Horror Mix, Magic Mix and Trick or Treat Mini Mix, and the range will also benefit from a significant TV campaign with a 'Tangfastics' tagline.

"Our range includes sharing bags that are great for Halloween parties and big value Halloween-themed multi-bags," says Haribo marketing manager Katy Clark.

Cadbury also plans to bring fresh blood to c-stores' novelty chocolate offer with new Dead Heads packets of mini milk chocolate heads filled with blood red caramel. And McVitie's Cake Company, part of United Biscuits UK, is launching two seasonal limited-edition variants, McVitie's Jaffa Cakes lemon and slime cake bars and Jaffa Cakes spooky mini rolls.

But one of the best things about Halloween, after the significant sales opportunity that it represents, is that any nightmares about over-stocking can be firmly banished.

The beauty of Halloween, says Swizzels Matlow communications director Andrew Matlow, is that it "comes about a week before Bonfire Night and so any left-over stock can be sold on over the firework period, which brings with it another explosive sales opportunity."

Helen Ashton, marketing manager at Standard and Blackcat Fireworks, thinks the season can be lucrative for the trade. "Fireworks are potentially a really good earner for independent retailers as the margin is far higher than the usual smaller items sold, such as crisps and cigarettes," she says.

Despite the credit crunch and the lure of big organised displays, around 10 million people still get together each year to enjoy fireworks in their own gardens, says Ashton, who also claims that sales were unaffected by the 2009 downturn.

However, it will be important for retailers to get their prices right in 2010. Ashton anticipates that value for money will still be key for consumers, with the £10 and £20 price points of particular interest. To inspire trade-up among shoppers she tips the trend for new single-ignition fireworks, in which multiple fireworks are triggered by one ignition process.

To help retailers boost profits, Hancocks is offering a bogof deal across its whole firework range. Summerley maintains that this extra buying power, plus their knowledge of local trends, means that c-store retailers really can get more bangs for their bucks
top tips
FIREWORK SALES l Stores are required to enforce a strict underage sales policy and display information at the point of sale stating: 'It is illegal to sell adult fireworks to anyone under the age of 18' l All packs of sparklers must carry the warning: 'Not to be given to children under five years of age.' l Fireworks intended for public use must comply with BS7114 and be marked as such. REGISTRATION l To store fireworks your premises must be registered with your local county council. Contact your nearest Trading Standards Office for advice. The annual fee is £103 for new applications and £51 for renewals l In addition, anyone wishing to sell or supply fireworks outside of permitted dates will have to apply to their local Trading Standards Service for a licence costing £500 l The permitted dates are: three days prior to and including Chinese New Year; three days prior to and including Diwali; October 15 to November 10; and December 26-31. STORAGE AND DISPLAY l Fireworks suitable for sale to the general public can be stored in quantities of up to 1,000kg in a safe and secure building or room that's not attached to a dwelling and is used only for storing fireworks l The maximum amount of fireworks that can be kept where the public have access is 50kg l You can keep fireworks in glass showcases, metal containers, wooden boxes, cupboards or drawers, but these must be locked or positioned so that no unauthorised person can reach them l You must not put glass showcases containing fireworks in your shop window l Any container used for keeping fireworks must not contain other articles l Matches must be stored separately.
ones to watch...
A bigger bang Encourage shoppers to make the magic go further this November 5 with the Centurion. A single-ignition lighting process triggers more than 105 separate explosions. rrp: £99.99 tel: 01484 640640 Sizzling sweets Perfetti van Melle hopes to have the scary season in the bag this year with new Halloween-themed bags perfect for trick or treaters. rrp: Chupa Chups Halloween 30 mini bag £1.69; Fruit-tella Halloween bag £1 tel: 01753 442 100 Tastes scary Kids can experience the sour side of life this Halloween with Haribo's Super Sour Monsters, which feature a flavoured sugar coating to freak out the most fearsome taste buds. rrp: £1.12 tel: 01977 600266 Rocket man New for 2010, this keenly priced Sky Warrior pack offers three soaring shots which should keeps the 'oohs' and 'aahs' coming from the most discerning fireworks' night crowds. rrp: £24.99 tel: 01509 216644 Devilish delights Mr Kipling is getting ready to unleash his dark side with new Devil Slices, a wicked twist on the usual Angel Slices, featuring blood red sponge and ghoulish packaging for extra appeal. rrp: £1 tel: 01727 815850