The goblins and ghouls associated with Halloween may be largely make-believe, but the sales opportunity is most definitely real.

£39.6m

That’s how much Halloween is worth within the convenience sector, growing 8.7% year-on-year, according to Cloetta

Within the convenience sector Halloween is worth a monster £39.6m, growing 8.7% year-on-year, according to Chewits brand owner Cloetta. Unsurprisingly, confectionery is the biggest spend at Halloween, but pumpkins and costumes have also been key drivers, says the firm. “This indicates that the nation is becoming more emotionally engaged with this seasonal event and is willing to spend money,” says commercial director Stuart Lane. “It’s not surprising that Halloween is now the third most significant event in the retail calendar after Christmas and Easter, bigger than Valentine’s Day. We would identify Halloween as a key opportunity for retailers to boost sales ahead of Christmas.”

Indeed, Swizzels Matlow claims that more families than ever are dressing up and throwing parties. The company’s recent survey of Halloween sweet shoppers showed that 76% gave out sweets and lollies, with 67% dressing their children up in fancy dress, 17% dressing up themselves, and 48% making a pumpkin lantern.

Pernod Ricard UK urges convenience retailers to tap into the season. “Increasingly consumers are choosing to celebrate these seasonal occasions, in particular, Halloween - they have become important calendar dates where families and friends look to spend time together and consumers are prepared to spend more to create a memorable in home occasion,” says off-trade channel director for spirits Chris Shead. “As a result, retailers - in particular grocery - have been quick to increase the level of visibility of key seasonal items over this trading period to capitalise on the potential profit.” Convenience retailers should look to replicate what the grocery sector is doing well by stocking a relevant range that suits the occasion, he suggests.

Terrifying treats

In order to set the scene, and increase sales, independents need to start signposting the season well before October 31. Mondelez International, which has an impressive 33% market share of the total Halloween confectionery market, advises c-stores to start stocking novelty treats in September. “Retailers can help to attract shoppers early with seasonal self-eat treats to get them into the Halloween spirit,” says trade communications manager Susan Nash.

Scream about it

If you want to guarantee bloodcurdlingly brilliant sales this Halloween, then it’s vital that you communicate your offering to customers. Premier Foods head of shopper marketing Jag Bains claims that seasonal POS can play a big role in highlighting your products. “As independents are under 3,000sq ft it’s important to utilise space and make use of shelf barkers or wobblers on existing cake displays to highlight Halloween hot spots,” she says.

As well as highlighting Halloween items within product categories, you can also interrupt shoppers by secondary siting products. “Retailers can use secondary siting in the lead up to Halloween to help increase sales, displaying relevant confectionery next to popular items such as newspapers or on the counter top as an impulse purchase,” suggests Chewits commercial director Stuart Lane.

Mondelez also recommends secondary siting. “Clipstrips are available for Cadbury Screme Egg Minis to offer retailers secondary site solutions to drive impulse purchases outside of the core Halloween confectionery space,” says Nash. “Retailers should site them within DVD aisles, alongside fancy dress items and among standard confectionery.”

Jo Agnew, marketing controller at Mr Kipling, agrees that moving seasonal products outside of their traditional category locations can add incremental sales. “At Halloween, it’s important to get cakes off-shelf and on to a gondola end,” she says. “If customers are just coming in for milk, they won’t go down the cake aisle, so the gondola end will stand out.”

A dedicated Halloween display can help to create a sense of fun in-store, while alerting shoppers to seasonal goods. “Making a dedicated display helps to scale the event up,” says Agnew. “If you have trick or treat buckets or fancy dress you can include food items alongside them.”

Merchandising your Halloween food and drink around non-food items such as masks and fake blood creates “a one stop shop for Halloween”, adds Bains.

You can even add your own deathly decorations to create a real air of creepiness, suggests Swizzels Matlow head of sales Mark Walker.

Cadbury Screme Egg was the top-selling Halloween treat of 2012, while Cadbury Crunchy Spider was the number two treat of the season. Both treats are back for Halloween 2013 and Mondelez has a dual display stand so that retailers can merchandise the products together. New for this year, Mondelez has unveiled Maynards Sour Patch Kids Heads and Bodies. The limited edition impulse bag features separated heads and bodies and is aimed at younger consumers who are expected to appreciate the ghastly goodies.

Gory is most definitely good when it comes to kids sweets, states Bazooka Candy Brands, which claims that kids have a “fascination for frightful-sounding flavours”. The firm’s limited edition Bleeding Eyeball Sour Cherry Mega Mouth returns this year in all-black packaging with 150 ‘bone-tingling’ sprays. The traditional Mega Mouth variants have also received a revolting reinvention, with flavours renamed for Halloween including: gory guts strawberry, crushed bones blue raspberry, green mucus apple, and rotting carcass cola.

Chewits Freaky Face and Vampire Fangs are also back on shelves this Halloween. Lane suggests that a dedicated kids’ fixture can help to build excitement and generate extra sales. “We have seen retailers trade successfully with a dedicated children’s display of ‘pocket money’ treats,” he says. “Prices should be made very clear so they are aware of how much they are spending and shelf height for this fixture needs to be at childrens’ eye level.”

Hancocks offers a repulsive range of seasonal pocket money treats for kids, including pumpkin-shaped Monster Mates Glow Pops and Halloween Light Jelly Pops, which boast sticks that light up when bent, and sherbet-filled Monster Mates Skeletons and Popping Candy sachets.

Themed sharing packs also help to build excitement in the weeks leading up to Halloween and Bonfire Night. Haribo’s Horror Mix, Tangy Monsters, and Spooky Ghosts are all proven winners. “Themed sharing bags help shoppers to get into the mood for the occasion in the lead up to the actual event they are also easy to display and help to drive impulse confectionery sales,” notes Haribo marketing manager Katy Clark.

Cadbury Screme Egg Minis and Cadbury Dead Heads sharebags are also being reincarnated for 2013, as is the Cadbury Trick-or-Treatsize Tub, which contains miniature Chomp, Fudge, Crunchie and Curly Wurly bars.

Spine-chilling celebrations

While trick or treaters are only out for one night, the window of opportunity for themed products is far greater than just 24 hours. “Halloween is an increasingly interesting season for sugar confectionery manufacturers and convenience retailers and the rise in not only the trend for trick or treating but also the fact that more and more families seem to be having Halloween parties and get togethers,” says David Leal, brand manager for Fruittella and Chupa Chups. “In terms of the lollipop market it is the single biggest four-week period of the year as consumers buy into large bags of sweets to share.” He notes that pre-wrapped lollies, such as those in the Chupa Chups Halloween Bag, are particularly relevant to such occasions as they are easily portionable and hygienic.

Retailer’s view

“Halloween sales are increasing - we were up 8-10% year-on-year in 2012. We’re going to highlight Halloween in a big way for 2013 with in-store theatre at the checkout area and at the entrance area, plus we’ll have a dedicated display two or three weeks before the day itself. Putting decorations up in advance will drive sales - it’s almost like Christmas!

“There’s a great advantage to getting Halloween stock out early. Screme Eggs were on their own when they first launched, but last year there was more variety. We’ll be looking to stock anything Halloween themed. We have a stand full of costumes, masks and fake blood. Normally we sell out of a few items and don’t get them replenished, so we’ll be looking to source more cash & carry lines to ensure we can do so.

“We sell pumpkins every year. One of our staff is going to carve faces into them and we’ll light them outside the store front to create an atmosphere. We’re also going to re-run a competition we held a couple of years ago where we asked customers on Facebook to come in in fancy dress and we’d post their photos on our page. All the kids came in to the shop to have their photos taken and it worked really well - we got a lot of likes on our page, so we’re going to resurrect the idea this year.”

Amarjit Bhdaal, Spar Auckley, South Yorkshire

Swizzels Matlow is also gearing up for a strong season. “Increased interest in Halloween led to seasonal confectionery growing by 10.9% in units and 8.6% in value over three weeks to November 3 2012,” notes head of sales Mark Walker. “Our Bumper Bag, Lots of Lollies and Chew Crew are the top three selling variety bags (five-week value sales leading up to November 10, 2012) on the market.”

For 2013, the firm is introducing Trick or Sweet. The 190g bag of individually wrapped sweets and lollies contains Love Hearts, New Refresher Bars and Drumstick Lollies.

Multipacks are also a popular format over the season, providing trick or treat and party solutions. Free-from confectioner Goody Good Stuff has launched a themed multi-bag. “Adults might be unaware of a child’s particular allergy to a certain food type or religious dietary requirement when giving out treats at Halloween,” notes managing director Melissa Burton. The Goody Good Stuff Halloween Mix Multi Bag (rrp: £3.49) contains 16 snack-size packs, featuring the firm’s existing sweets, alongside two new variants - Sour Cheery Cherries and Sour Koala Gummy Bears.

The growth of Halloween and Bonfire Night means that retailers can sell far more than just seasonal confectionery to those looking to celebrate. The biggest ambient cake brand during Halloween 2012 was Mr Kipling, accounting for 26% share of the market and worth £1.7m. The brand has experienced Halloween seasonal growth of 16%, with top seller Mr Kipling Fiendish Fancies growing 19% year-on-year. Joining them for 2013 are Mr Kipling Shock & Orange Slices and new release Mr Kipling Toffee Terror Whirls (rrp: £1).

Premier Foods is also releasing a new pack design for Cadbury Halloween cakes: cinder toffee and slimy strawberry cake bars and blackcurrant Mini Rolls.

Halloween shopper missions

Be sure that you are covered for all of the below Halloween shopper missions:

● Pocket money purchases by children in the run up to the event

● Items to facilitate a Halloween party - children’s party bags, prizes or consumption at the party

● Goodies to give away to trick or treaters during the evening of Halloween

● Small treats purchased by adults for both children and other family members and friends

Source: Hancocks

United Biscuits also has some creepy cake bars, including Jaffa Cakes spooky and lemon and slime variants and McVitie’s Screamin’ Sours. David Fowler, marketing controller at McVitie’s Cake Company, says: “Cake still remains one of the fastest growing Halloween categories of which McVitie’s holds an 18% share. This, coupled with the increase in the number of people holding their own bonfire spectaculars, makes these seasonal occasions key sales opportunities for retailers.”

New for 2013, the company is launching McVitie’s Mini Digestives Creepy Shapes and Gruesome Gang biscuits (rrp: £1). The former features biscuits shaped like bats, ghosts, spiders and witches’ hats and comes in a multipack of six 150g bags, while the latter comes in cartons of six two biscuit portions, which are designed to be cracked and snapped into four mini individual characters.

There are some equally eerie offerings from Burton’s Biscuit Company. The firm’s Halloween range comprises Terrifying Toffee Witches Sticks (Cadbury Fingers), Halloweenies (Cadbury Mini Animals), Vampire Bites (Cadbury Mallows), Cadbury Mini Scary Fingers and a mixed bag of Monster Treats. The range has received a pack refresh and is available in shelf-ready packaging. David Costello, Burton’s Biscuit Company’s category and activation controller, says: “Last year, sales of Burton’s products accounted for 92% of all Halloween-themed sweet biscuit sales, which were up 15% on the previous year.”

Another firm cashing in on the season is The Little Treats Company, which is releasing Monster Mini tubs, containing 18 ghost, skull, bat and pumpkin shaped gingerbread biscuits. The firm’s parent company Frank Roberts & Sons also owns Roberts Bakery, and will be offering a combined sales solution over the Halloween period. Roberts Bakery brand manager Karen Smith says: “We are hosting ‘dare to share’ party food shippers in 250 stores, to push new-to-market products from Little Treats Company alongside on-going lines from Roberts Bakery. This means Little Treats’ seasonal NPD is promoted alongside two of our year-round party favourites - Roberts Bakery burger buns and finger rolls - to take advantage of the surge in family-friendly fast food served around Bonfire and Halloween. Convenience shoppers respond well to quick impulse purchasers that offer seasonal fun and we price accordingly at £1.”

At the savoury end of the spectrum, Pom-Bear Spooky Pickled Onion from Intersnack is returning for Halloween 2013. Sales of the product were 67% higher than the previous year’s Halloween product and all sales were incremental to regular sales, claims the firm. Themed bags show Pom-Bear in a vampire outfit, and new for this year packs will feature a link back to the brand’s Facebook page where consumers can pick up tips for Halloween parties and the chance to win themed goodies.

The company is also releasing Penn State devil’s flame roasted chipotle chilli Pretzels - a spicier version of a product first trialled in 2012. The pretzels come in bat and web-shapes with a 175g sharing bags retailing at £1.59.

Bloodcurdling beverages

Retailers can accompany their themed food offerings with some suitably shocking soft drinks. In preparation for the party season, Irn-Bru regular and Sugar Free will be available in themed 2ltr twin-packs (pricemarked at £2.69), alongside 2ltr packs of Barr SCream Soda, Slimy Limeade and Chilling Cherryade, each price-marked at 99p and 330ml Trick or Treat cans retailing at 39p or three for £1. “Last year shoppers bought over 1.3 million of our Halloween-themed packs and we expect sales to be even higher this year,” says Adrian Troy, AG Barr head of marketing. The special packs will be supported with a range of POS.

Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) is also getting in on the action with a limited edition Fanta. Available from the end of September, the packs will feature Halloween-themed graphics on 2ltr, six and eight x 330ml multi-pack formats across Fanta Orange, Orange Zero, Icy Lemon and Fruit Twist SKUs and 2ltr Red Fruits. Multipacks will include inserts with spooky decoration ideas and Fanta punch recipes, while the 2ltr packs will feature Halloween tips and tricks inside promotional labels.

Catering to the adult market over the Halloween and Bonfire party season is another way to grow your share of sales. Punches play more of a role at this time of year, so Pernod Ricard recommends inspiring retailers with cocktail suggestions. “To encourage people to be more adventurous with their Halloween drinks, convenience retailers should look to stock a range of 35cl spirits, in particular rum and whiskies which tend to be more popular over the autumn period,” says off-trade channel director for spirits Chris Shead. “These smaller formats make premium spirits accessible at more attractive price points (the average price point for 35cl is £7.06) they encourage trial and they are a convenient size for occasions, such as Halloween with family and friends.”

With so many seasonal products on the market and only limited space in which to sell them, the secret to making a killing this Halloween is to think about the season in terms of shopper missions. “Catering for each Halloween occasion - trick or treating, Halloween parties and self-treating - helps retailers to capitalise on the event for longer,” says Haribo’s Clark.

By gradually building up to Halloween with smaller products on-shelf from September, culminating in a strong selection of sharing and party goodies in October and November, you can create the full fright factor in-store and ensure that you sink your fangs into this lucrative market.

Ones to watch

Trendy torch

Consumers celebrating Halloween and Bonfire Night outdoors could well be interested in Varta’s LED Lipstick Light. Available in turquoise and pink, the aluminium torch has a lanyard and benefits from a high performance 0.5 Watt LED light.

rrp: £4.99

tel: 0161 947 3084

Hello treacle

Tasty Treacle bars from Walkers Nonsuch are set to attract plenty of attention this Halloween and Bonfire Night. The 50g bars are designed to appeal to existing customers, whilst also attracting a new younger generation of toffee lovers.

rrp: 35p

tel: 01782 321 525

Baking blitz

Stocking homebaking products is a must for Halloween, claims Dr Oetker. In the run up to the 2012 holiday, the company witnessed a 246% increase in sales of its Orange Gel Food Colour and a similar increase in its black counterpart over the 12-week period to Halloween.

tel: 01772 643300

Toffee twist

Tangerine Confectionery is getting consumers in the mood for spooky season with its new limited edition Butterkist variant. The toffee apple flavour popcorn comes in 150g bags and is expected to drive new consumers to the category.

rrp: £1.49

tel: 01253 603 613

Scary dairy

Bel UK is releasing themed Mini Babybels in time for the Halloween season. Featuring creepy images of carved pumpkins, ghouls and monsters on each individual Babybel, the limited edition lines will be available in all retail trade channels from October 1 to the middle of November.

tel: 01622 774800