How Halloween Scares Up Big Retail Spending & Seasonal Jobs

by Stacey Roman, Shared Services Specialist, ACA Talent

Halloween does more than bring out the whimsy (and the sweet tooth) in us—it drives business in a big way. And in this economy, good business is a Boo-tiful thing! Halloween’s history was thousands of years in the making, and today it heralds the beginning of the spending season for consumers. Record numbers of Americans are expected to celebrate the holiday this year, projecting profits that are out of this world, and creating thousands of seasonal jobs.

Halloween’s History

The haunted history of this celebration began thousands of years ago. Historians believe that Halloween is a combination of an ancient Celtic festival marking the end of the summer and harvest seasons (Samhain) and All Saints’ Day (a day dedicated to honoring all saints and martyrs). And let’s not forget the Roman Empire’s severed hand in this holiday. By the year 43 AD the Romans had added two of their own festivals into the mix.  Fast forward a couple thousand years and we have a holiday that is not only a cultural melting pot, but also a slam dunk for business.

Making Monster Profits

Halloween is more than choosing a costume, passing out candy to children, and mutilating innocent pumpkins; it’s about making money—and lots of it! This year, retail stores, candy corporations, and theme parks will most likely make it hand over fist. In fact, according to the National Retail Foundation, Halloween has become highest grossing holiday right after Christmas.

It is estimated that we will dish out roughly $8 billion on costumes, decorations, and candy.  To put that figure into perspective, Americans spent roughly $3 billion on Halloween just seven years ago!  Of the $8 billion we will spend this year, $370 million alone will be devoted to purchasing costumes for our pets.  With 170 million Americans projected to celebrate Halloween, many wallets may be full of cobwebs by the end of the season.

Seasonal Spending and Spooky Jobs

As the unofficial beginning of the holiday shopping season, Halloween kicks off a spending frenzy that lasts through the New Year. If you are celebrating the holiday, you may have noticed that many of your favorite stores don’t just have Halloween paraphernalia, but Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Hanukah products too. Your rubber brains and vampire fangs are now side by side with Thanksgiving decorations and plastic Santas. Many retailers have adopted this strategy of promoting their holiday products before you’ve even had a chance to say, “trick or treat,” hoping to maximize their last quarter profits.

With a record number of people expected to celebrate this year it’s no wonder that seasonal Halloween stores have become popular. They typically pop up in empty retail spaces, starting in August and haunting us until early November. These spooky spots don’t just provide a fun shopping experience and additional foot traffic to their shopping malls; they also supply jobs for Halloween enthusiasts. As of this article’s publication, job search giant Indeed.com lists roughly 4,500 nationwide openings associated with the keyword “Halloween.” About 3,000 of those positions are for retailer Halloween City. Where else can someone list “well-versed in the walking dead” or “proficient in all things zombie” as a skillset and still get hired?

Seasonal hiring isn’t limited to Halloween stores either. FedEx, for example, is set to hire 20,000 seasonal workers to accommodate the busy shipping season this year. Target is expected to hire over 80,000 employees as well.

As a vibrant segment of the retail industry, it’s safe to say that Halloween has come a long way in the last few thousand years. Of course, nobody could have predicted that this scary celebration would evolve into the beast that it is today.

So, no matter how you choose to celebrate this year, one thing is for sure—Halloween is a cash cow that any self-respecting, business-minded vampire could really sink their fangs into!

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