While COVID-19 cases finally seem to be decreasing, grocers are wondering if consumers will still be too spooked to celebrate Halloween this year. To help find out, Chicago data firm Numerator recently issued a Q4 2021 Holiday Intentions Survey to more than 5,000 consumers to understand how they expect to celebrate and shop for the holidays ahead, including Halloween.
For the spookiest day of the year, Numerator found that more people indeed plan to trick-or-treat this year. While trick-or-treating plans remain down compared to pre-pandemic years, 29% of consumers say they will trick-or-treat in 2021, up from 25% in 2020.
The region in which consumers reside has a bearing on how/if they celebrate. Numerator found that Northeastern consumers are the most likely group to plan for traditional Halloween celebrations. Consumers in this part of the United States are more likely to hand out candy (Index 116 vs all regions) and go trick-or-treating (122), but the least likely to gather with friends and family (86). Meanwhile, Western consumers are planning for more low-key Halloween celebrations. Consumers in this region are significantly more likely to order takeout (156) or go out for food/drinks (137), and the least likely to go trick-or-treating (80).
In regards to spending, planned candy purchases are approaching pre-pandemic levels. Eighty-four percent of consumers plan to buy candy or snacks for their Halloween celebrations, down slightly from 90% in typical years. The majority of Halloween candy buyers (64%) say they plan to buy the same amount of candy as they do in typical years. Seventeen percent say they plan to buy more and 19% plan to buy less candy.
Schools opening up for in-person learning are also giving candy aisles a boost. The number of people saying they will buy candy for school Halloween celebrations climbs from 17% in 2020 to 22% in 2021, approaching pre-pandemic levels (27% of consumers).
Halloween decorations are also up, according to Numerator. Forty-seven percent of consumers are planning to purchase festive decorations this year, compared to 41% of consumers in 2020.
Amid the decorating fun is a slight increase in pumpkins sales, according to Finder.com. The cost of the average pumpkin in 2021 is $4.83, up from $4.18 in 2020 — a 15.7% increase. As a result, Americans are projected to be spending approximately $708 million on pumpkins in 2021. This is an increase of about $21 million (3.1%) from the $686 million just a year ago.
However, grocers may have reason to be scared of their third quarter results, as Numerator found that this retail channel showed the largest declines in Halloween shopping intentions. Only 44% of consumers plan to buy their Halloween purchases at grocery stores (-8.9 points from typical years), while nearly two-thirds (64%) of consumers plan to make their Halloween purchases at mass retailers.
The Q4 Holiday Consumer Intentions Survey was fielded from Sept. 15-17 to 5,092 Numerator panelists.