Halloween 2013 proved to be the biggest and best yet for the convenience store sector as retailers up and down the country looked beyond solely promotions and took a more holistic approach to the spooky seasonal event.

Many stores adopted a three-pronged strategy to get a bigger share of the Halloween market, worth an estimated £39.6m within convenience and growing at 8.7% year on year.

Edinburgh Premier retailer Linda Williams was just one of the many who celebrated the event with a combination of in-store events, theatre and promotions.

“We really went for it this year, decorating the store with huge spiders and pumpkins and getting the stock out almost a month before. We also held a variety of in-store activities such as apple bobbing and a treasure hunt for local children. All the staff also wore costumes. All in all it created a fantastic buzz.

“Events such as this really help to keep things interesting and create a talking point both in the store and in the community,” she said.

Ammo Bhdaal of Spar Auckley in Doncaster also held a variety of events to engage with his community. “Halloween is now a huge event - the third biggest market after Christmas and Easter. From 3pm to 5pm we had face-painting, and then from 5pm to 7pm we had a party in the store. This year was much more about the festivity. We also made up goody bags for the local kids and provided a buffet of cakes, biscuits and drinks,” he said.

Lincolnshire retailer Jacqui Bailey of Spar Boston ran an in-store Trick or Treat night, with lucky dip baskets and ‘Scariest’ child fancy dress competition, the results of which were posted throughout the evening on the store’s Facebook page.

In Aberdeenshire Nisa Mintlaw and Maud owner Sid Ali also used Facebook to showcase the results of the pumpkin-carving competition that he organised in association with his local primary school.

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“This year we held a Halloween BBQ alongside various other offers. The wholesalers’ deals are getting better and when combined with our own initiatives we can create real excitement.”

Dan Cock, Whitstone Stores, Holsworthy, Devon

“My wife spent £350 on decorations for the store and we played ghostly music and gave out sweets to kids. It reminds them that their local store is here for them.”

Jai Singh, Singh’s Premier, Sheffield

 

Pumpkins prove a winner

Pumpkins once again proved key footfall drivers, with more than four million thought to have been sold.

A bumper crop allowed stores to offer a wide range of sizes and prices. At Gravelles Budgens in Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire, extra-large pumpkins were being sold for £3, while in Redditch, Simply Fresh retailer Simon Biddle was selling his medium pumpkins at ‘two for £2.50’.

David Heritage of Barns Green Village stores in West Sussex sold all but three of his. “On 31 October I dropped the price from £1.99 to £1.50 and they flew out,” he said.