Independent retailers are increasingly harnessing the power of seasonal events such as Halloween to engage with their local communities.

Store owners from across the country invested in themed in-store events, activities and promotions for Halloween 2015 which this year fell on a Saturday and during half term.

Anita Nye from Eldred Drive Stores in Orpington, Kent, spent hours transforming her store with ghoulish Halloween themed decorations including a six-foot talking monster, fake rats and severed feet and hands which she placed in the chillers. The store also gave out sweets to local children. “The whole idea was to bring people in and have fun. At one point it was so busy you could hardly move. It wasn’t about boosting sales, it was about engaging with shoppers, however we did end up taking around £600 more than we would on a normal Saturday night as adults topped up on groceries and extra trick or treat items while they were in with the kids,” she said.

Sheffield retailer Jai Singh of MJ’s Go Local Extra invested in a smoke machine to brew up a spooky in-store atmosphere and decorated it with cobwebs and themed merchandise. He also held a pumpkin carving competition. “The main reason we decorate the store is for the kids and to give something back to the community. We have a bowl of sweets on the counter for trick or treaters. It feels nice to make the effort as we have become a central hub for parents taking their kids trick or treating. It creates a really good atmosphere.”

Spar retailer Rachael Gosnay from Saltburn, North Yorkshire, also “went all out” for Halloween. Staff got behind the event by wearing fancy dress and the store also held a pumpkin carving competition.

“With Halloween falling at the weekend and half term, we wanted to commit to it properly. The customers really took to it and it gave us a great opportunity to talk to them. They’re already coming back to us and asking what we’re doing for Christmas. It really helps the business to maximise events,” she said.