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Halloween 2020: the final countdown

With just a matter of days to go before Halloween 2020 celebrations are set to get fully underway, spoke to some online party and Halloween retailers to find out how business has been going so far and what they expect to see from the final week.

With four stores and an e-commerce offering, Hollywood Fancy Dress has all bases covered and is hoping for a busy end to this week.

“We have seen about 20% of our normal trade since we opened up again back in June – across all four stores.  It’s a similar story across the website, despite the huge amount of work we put into it when the pandemic hit – we’re now right near the top of the Google listings, which is great. The e-commerce site has helped to keep things going, even if it’s not quite to the extent we would normally hope or expect.

We haven’t yet seen the Halloween boost we were hoping to, but we have been expecting people to leave it to the last minute and until after payday, so as the final week gets underway we are remaining positive.

Much of our customer base comes from the local universities – students from Southampton, Bournemouth and Poole are normally all key for us. But this year we can’t even advertise with them as they can’t be seen to promote any gatherings.

We haven’t dropped our prices dramatically – we certainly aren’t trying to compete with sellers who are just trying to get rid of stock at crazy prices. We still want to be in business next year, so there’s no point in us giving stock away. We need to make sure we can keep the trade going in the long-term as well.

We have to be honest about the situation – we’ll be speaking frankly with our landlords in the new year as we need to renegotiate rents and we are currently in ‘talks’ with our insurance company over the meaning of ‘business interruption’! But while we know we are in for a rough time, I do think this will all be over by next Halloween. We just need to hold our nerve!

On that note I do want to thank Smiffys for all their help and posivitity over the past few months. We need to be realistic, but we also need to keep talking the industry up and looking towards the future. We fully intend to be bouncing back this time next year!”

Archie Brown, owner, Hollywood Fancy Dress and

Fancy Dress Worldwide is counting down the days via its Facebook page.

When the pandemic hit, as a business we had to immediately ask ourselves big questions; namely what are our abilities and how do we apply those to something that is going to sustain us if this pandemic is here for a long time? It was either that or go into hibernation until the pandemic calms down, as clearly the industry was going to face huge challenges.

Software has always been our strength, so we decided to diversify into other product categories . Luckily, partyware itself didn’t initially perform as badly as costumes, so we had some time to diversify and now offer a range of other products as well.

We did get a boost when Amazon moved Prime day to October, which in turn meant that our store on Amazon received more traffic generally, giving us a 35% increase in sales for two days running. We had been assessing things week-by-week before Halloween, but initial optimism back in March was replaced by the growing probability of a second wave hitting around the Halloween period.

I think bricks and mortar shops (in cities with less restrictions) will receive a boost as we enter the days close to Halloween, with customers buying behaviours becoming more impulsive based on what restrictions are imposed on their area on that day. I think as a result people will shop local and opportunistic business owners with innovative routes to reach customers will do well.”

Dominic Portman, owner and founder,

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