Halloween has become one of the biggest and fastest-growing consumer holidays, which makes it a big deal for merchants this year. The National Retail Federation estimates that Halloween spending is set to reach a record $9.1 billion this year alone. People are looking for ways to escape their day to day lives. Halloween provides the perfect opportunity to escape without the usual holiday pressures of family and travel. There is not the usual stress of cooking a meal or buying presents, instead offering people a night of the year to dress up and be whoever they want to be. This means that more and more people every year dedicate time and energy towards the perfect costume or the perfect Halloween party.
Movies such as Spiderman and Frozen have infiltrated the big screens everywhere, and television shows with unique and interesting characters and plots are all the rage. “Costumes in general are fast becoming a year-long state of mind. With popular television shows such as Making Monsters, Face Off, True Blood and The Walking Dead infiltrating pop culture, ghost, goblins and ghouls are becoming an everyday part of life," says Jonathan Erwin of the Halloween & Party Expo, the industry's leading trade show for Halloween, fantasy costume and party themed stores.
Preparing for such a growing and popular holiday can seem like a challenge to the average small business owner. With Halloween less than two weeks away, it can feel like it is too late to take advantage of this spooky night, but do not be tricked – there are still plenty of small things that merchants, both in retail and restaurant, can do to prepare. Offering promotions, having social media costume contests, and doing gift card giveaways not only increase customer loyalty, they also boost awareness and increase sales.
Email Blasts Highlighting Promotions
From alcohol distributors to pizza shop owners to retailers and more, sales are expected to increase across the board in all areas that support Halloween sales. One great way of getting foot traffic in the door on or before Halloween is through promotions. Holiday promotions are an easy, last minute way to get people excited about shopping or eating at your establishment. If you are a restaurant, you can run a promotion on your menu the day of Halloween to get people who have no plans in the door for a meal. If you are a retailer, you can run a promotion the week leading up to Halloween with a percentage off coupon, highlighting finishing up costumes last minute. Promotions engage customers and get them excited for the upcoming holiday. The email can be designed with a Halloween theme and will cost virtually nothing to send out to customers.
Costume Contest through Social Media
We live in a digital era where almost every single person relies on their smart phone. Along with smart phones comes greater access to social media. Small businesses can capitalize on social media to get customers engaged and in the door. Having a costume contest through Instagram or Facebook that uses a specific hashtag can help generate awareness of the business. If you are a restaurant owner, you can offer a complimentary meal for the winner chosen at random. If you are a retailer, you can offer a percentage off their next purchase. This will get people excited and in the mood to get creative with their posts. Not only will you get a chance to see how many customers are engaging with your business through the hashtag, but their followers will get a chance to see your business as well and potentially join in on the spooky fun! Having signs up in your business that promote the hashtag and social media costume contest are an added boost of awareness.
Offer Gift Card Giveaways
Everyone loves a giveaway and Halloween-based giveaways are even better. Having customers enter in a drawing for a gift card giveaway is one of the best ways to excite them and leave them coming back for more. Gift cards offer a chance for customers to come back and purchase something. If a customer receives a gift card with a certain amount of money loaded onto it but they want to purchase something more expensive, then the individual will usually go out-of-pocket to cover the rest of the purchase price. Consumers tend to spend more when they already have a certain amount to spend at a business. According to Giftcards.com, 72% of customers will spend on average 20% more than the amount allotted on the gift card. This is an easy way to boost profits and satisfy customers, all while getting your business into the Halloween spirit.
These are just three ways that merchants can increase sales and improve customer loyalty this Halloween holiday. Sending out email blasts for promotions, holding social media costume contests, and offering giveaways are great ways to reward loyal customers and attract new business as well. Whether you run a retail store or provide specialized services, these last minute tips are a relatively inexpensive way to market your business without taking up too much of your time. When your customers are happy, your business will be happy – all treats and no tricks this Halloween.