Halloween provides a fourth-quarter kickoff that keeps strengthening every year.
"In the entire retail universe, Halloween has become the second biggest holiday in merchandising, behind only Christmas," said Kirk Kirkpatrick, vice president of marketing at WaxWorks/VideoWorks, Owensboro, Ky.
With increasing consumer demand during this key season comes more studio-supplied product. "We're always title-heavy during this season," said Brenda Vanover, director of video for K-VA-T Food Stores, Abingdon, Va.
Like Christmas, Halloween is lengthening its season as its influence grows. "Halloween is only one night of the year," said Kirkpatrick, "but we've seen it expand through the whole month of October."
This results in more merchandising opportunities for supermarkets. "Halloween is growing in terms of the number of parties," said Greg Rediske, president of Video Management Co., Tacoma, Wash. To serve that market "we may work some shippers in, although we've never brought in much sell-through before," he said.
Some retailers use this seasonal opportunity to dispose of horror rental inventory. "Used tapes sell very well during the season," said Paula Schneider, director of retail operations at Buehler Foods, Jasper, Ind. The holiday "allows retailers to profit from titles they already have," noted Kirkpatrick, "by trying to make it an impulse buy. The smarter retailers are putting together baskets with assortments of tapes, popcorn, masks, games, treats, and the like."
Other retailers bring in older budget product for sell-through. "We're working on older Halloween classics," said Craig Hill, video specialist at Harps Food Stores, Springdale, Ark., "the sort of product you can pick up from liquidators at $2 and sell at $2.99."
Still others add older studio reissues. "There is still good business in repromoted classics," said Ken Stilling, vice president of sales for ETD Entertainment Distributing, Houston. "Classics move slower than newer titles," said Bill Bryant, vice president of sales, grocery and drug at Ingram Entertainment, La Vergne, Tenn. "But they are consistent and their margins are usually much higher."
The latter product benefits from studio promotional expertise. "Some of this year's Halloween displayers are very creative and attractive," said Rediske, "like the Universal Classic one."
These materials can help form more elaborate sales displays. "Some supermarket chains choose to make an event out of Halloween titles," said Bryant, "by merchandising flashlights, batteries, film, and/or candy adjacent to the Halloween video display."
The holiday also affords rental opportunities. "The better supermarkets capitalize on Halloween rental," said Kirkpatrick, "by putting together packages that their competitors don't have."
During the holiday season "it's always a good idea to highlight the horror section," said Bryant. "Shelf talkers are an easy way to promote this genre and create numerous rentals. Special pricing also works well, with signage that promotes the sale. 'Prices so low, they'll scare you' always grabs the consumer's eye."