September 6, 2021 By Suzanne Robertson

The National Retail Federation has been conducting its annual Halloween survey since 2003 to learn how Americans celebrate the “fright and delight” of this beloved autumn holiday.

The statistics this year, after a year when Halloween Trick or Treating was cancelled or limited, are heartening. Consumers surveyed plan to spend $92.12 per person. That adds up to over 8 billion dollars of potential spending overall. Additionally, 50% plan to celebrate October 31st.

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Although your marketing dollars may be limited due to the pandemic and economy, it would be a huge marketing mishap to ignore this popular season. Below are some easy ways you can drive traffic and increase Halloween sales.

Look at your budget

Set aside marketing dollars for Halloween. Look at your cashflow, marketing plan, and savings to determine your budget. That might include paying for online advertising, traditional advertising, additional inventory, in store promotions and more.

Now is a good time review the rest of your year as Halloween is just the first holiday season event. If you find yourself falling short on marketing dollars or inventory, consider a small business loan. Look for low-cost funding available for a wide variety of uses. The right loan can even be used for debt consolidating to help improve your cashflow. One option is a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan. With low rates and a ten-year term, the payments are small and manageable. Learn more on the SmartBiz Loans website. For more small business funding options, like term loans or lines of credit, visit the SmartBiz Small Business Blog: 2021 Guide to Small Business Loans.

Creative communication

Online engagement is more important than ever these days. You want to educate shoppers about your brand, goods, and services, as well as highlighting that your business is practicing employee and customer safety.

If you have captured customer emails, use those to launch a Halloween alert or a Fall themed newsletter. A dedicated mailing might include special offers, giveaways, and fun images. Include past photos of your decorated store and dressed up employees.

Social media allows for targeted consumer communication. Put your creative plans on Facebook or Instagram and don’t forget your business website. A colorful banner lets visitors know about your plans.

Cater to the children

Shopping with kids is rarely a rewarding experience. This year, plan a day of family friendly Halloween themed activities. This can include a “make a Trick or Treat bag”, balloons, popcorn or local children’s entertainers. Hold a drawing for a special Halloween gift basket. Many local parenting publications and blogs have free event listings so you can get the word out easily.

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Community promotion

You don’t need a physical location for this promotion. Does your community have a fall festival or other seasonal themed event? (Pumpkin patch, haunted house, etc.) If your community is still hosting in-person events, explore setting up a booth to introduce your business, hand out branded swag, or host a giveaway. If this option is costly, consider partnering with another small business that compliments your products or services. You can also skip the event and donate items like candy bags or water (branded with your company, of course).

Many local schools make a big deal out of Halloween. Check with local education centers to see if they need donations for Halloween carnivals and other fall events.


This one is a no-brainer. Buy some budget friendly Halloween decorations and go crazy. Dollar shops and thrift stores can be a treasure trove of seasonal swag. Enlist the help of team members to get creative input.

Don’t forget easily visible signage outside of your store. Something as simple as a colorful balloon bouquet can attract shoppers.

Social media engagement

If you don’t have a bricks and mortar location, you can still get in on the Halloween fun. Put up Halloween themed posts, funny memes, photos of your staff in costume, news stories about Halloween, etc. For just a small amount of money – as low as $5.00 a post - you can reach thousands of potential customers on Facebook in a demographic that you designate.

Halloween can be a good time to check out your future holiday plans. See what actions lead to engagement, questions, or purchases. Use the data to help shape future holiday plans.

Host a costume contest

After a year of medical masking, the public is ready for some fun dressing up. Heavily promote your costume contest, focusing on a valuable prize. (gift baskets, gift cards, etc.) Use social media, your newsletter, local advertising, and in-store signage to let the community know about your special event.

Don’t forget your customer’s furry friends! According to a new study, the average pet owner spends $111 each month on their animal and some paw-rents put those dollars towards pet costumes. Create a bigger buzz in the community by hosting a pet costume contest. Everyone loves a pet in costume! A human or pet costume party is an excellent topic for a press release. Contact local media to see if there’s interest in an article about your event or photos the day of.

Dress up

Get your team into the Halloween spirit! You don’t need everyone in full costumes; there are plenty of creative Halloween themed t-shirts available. A simple witch hat or devil horns worn on the head can suffice as well.


A creative way to increase sales is to offer several items bundled together for a special price. Come up with an interesting name like the “Mummy Mash Up” collection or a “Boo Bundle”. To introduce shoppers to fresh products, bundle a popular item with a new one.

Give back

There are ways you can support others during this season. One option is to collect unwanted candy after the holiday to send to overseas troops through Operation Gratitude. How sweet!

Another smart way to give back is to support your community charity efforts. You can donate time, money, or goods to a worthy organization.

Final thoughts

As 2021 winds down, don’t just concentrate on the big holidays. We’ve put together a comprehensive marketing calendar to help you take advantage of lesser-known or obscure observations. Things like Coffee Lovers Day, Customer Appreciation Week, or National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day can help your creativity kick into high gear and help you stand out from your competitors. Access the calendar here: Marketing Calendar for Small Business.

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