Analysis: Are Americans Preparing for a Big Halloween in 2021?

Pattern Data Science

October 11, 2021

October has arrived, and you know what that means: spooky season is officially upon us!

Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic upended one of America’s favorite holidays. With cases on the rise, millions of Americans canceled their Halloween parties, limited trick-or-treating, and some chose to sit out the holiday entirely.

One year later, and there’s still some uncertainty surrounding the holiday. Vaccines are readily available, and things are far more open than this time last year, but rising case rates spurred by the Delta variant may have many feeling cautious again.

Naturally, we decided to dive deep into our data to find answers to questions like: How slow was 2020 for major items like Halloween costumes and candy? How is demand for those items trending in 2021? And has the pandemic made certain costumes more or less popular?

A strong early season for online demand for Halloween supplies in 2021

Let’s start with the broadest available view by examining monthly demand for all things that fall under the “Halloween” category on Amazon. This would include decorations, costumes, supplies, etc.

A year over year view shows that 2020 actually saw online demand for Halloween supplies outpace pre-pandemic levels in September and October. A likely reason for this is a general increase in online shopping last year, as many stores closed their doors and even more people choose to shop from the safety of their own home.

Interestingly, though, online demand in 2021 outpaced both 2019 and 2020 in July and August, and appears to be on track for a particularly strong September and October.

This also may be the result of the proliferation of online shopping, but it’s a strong indicator that we’re in store for a particularly busy Halloween shopping season.

Let’s take a closer look at some specific types of Halloween supplies, starting with costumes.

Online demand for costumes has rebounded to pre-pandemic levels

While the general Halloween category may have done quite well last year, the same is definitely not true for costumes.

Online demand for costumes was down substantially in 2020 compared to 2019. In September 2020, demand was down -37% compared to 2019, while October 2020 was down -30%. Considering the comparatively strong performance of Halloween as a category, it seems that many Americans opted to celebrate the holiday by staying home last year.

Demand for costumes in 2021, meanwhile, appears to have rebounded to pre-pandemic levels during the early months of the Halloween shopping season. It remains to be seen if this trend will continue through September, but the early indication is that there is pent-up demand for big Halloween celebrations this year.

“Sexy” healthcare worker Halloween costumes are more popular than ever

Whether you’re tossing on a labcoat and a stethoscope, going with the classic “sexy nurse” costume, or spicing it up with a “zombie surgeon” getup — the healthcare field has provided countless people with popular Halloween costumes.

Naturally, we were curious to know if the COVID-19 pandemic changed this at all. Are healthcare workers a more or less popular costume option in the face of the past year? Let’s take a look at the data.

2020 saw online demand for items like nurse and doctor costumes dip only slightly below 2019’s figures. Considering the much larger drop in demand for all costumes last year, it seems that people were actually more likely to dress up as someone in the healthcare field than your average costume.

So far this year has seen online demand for healthcare worker costumes return to pre-pandemic levels. This suggests that last year’s enthusiasm may have waned somewhat, but these classic costumes appear to be just as popular as they’ve always been.

But what about a spicier take on healthcare worker costumes? Are people more or less likely to go for the “sexy nurse” or “sexy doctor” costume now than they were before the pandemic?

Again, 2020 saw demand dip compared to 2019. No big surprise considering big Halloween parties were frequently canceled last October.

When we examine the trendline this year, though, we can see that the “sexy” healthcare worker may be an extremely popular option at Halloween parties across the country. Demand has outpaced 2019 and 2020 for every month since Spring, and is trending to be well above both years as the holiday approaches.

This is yet another strong early indicator that Halloween might rebound in a big way in 2021.

Pet costumes

Pet costumes have exploded in popularity over the last decade, and we wanted to see how the pandemic impacted demand for costumes for our furry friends.

People weren’t just holding off on dressing themselves up last year, but their pets, too. Online demand dropped significantly in 2020 compared to 2019, down -32% in September and 26% in October.

This year, meanwhile, demand has returned to practically mirror pre-pandemic levels. It seems that Americans are just as antsy to get their cats and dogs back to a normal Halloween this year as they are themselves.

Online demand for candy has been up all year long

Last, but not least, let’s take a look at the reason for the season: candy.

While Halloween is a huge driver for candy sales, it’s far from the only big candy holiday of the year. Online demand for candy surges during Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween, and the Holidays.

2020 saw online demand for candy explode compared to 2019. Much of this was likely due to the growth of online shopping during the pandemic, but once again, we see a strong signal that Halloween 2021 is going to see massive online demand for candy.

Recap: costumes hit hardest in 2020, biggest rebound in 2021

Let’s close by quickly comparing each of the categories we analyzed in the previous sections. First, here’s how well (or poorly) each category fared during Halloween last year.

Candy and general Halloween items both saw demand actually increase in October 2020 compared to October 2019, as more Americans found themselves stuck at home for the Holiday.

All costume categories, meanwhile, saw demand drop. Both regular and “sexy” healthcare worker costumes saw demand drop somewhat less compared to both pet costumes and all other costumes, suggesting these were a popular costume choice for those who did choose to dress up last year.

In August 2021, the most recent full month of data we have, shows that pet costumes are on track for a particularly big rebound, with demand up 144% compared to August of last year. Demand for all costumes saw the next biggest bump, with demand up 72% compared to the early Halloween shopping season last year.

All categories were up compared to last year, though, including candy, which had already seen a significant bump in 2020 compared to a pre-pandemic year.

A lesson for brands

Our data suggests that 2021 could be a huge year for Halloween across the country. The pandemic had a major impact on the holiday last year, and it seems like Americans are eager to get out and celebrate in a big way this year.

Understanding the factors that influence consumer behavior can help brands better understand how to forecast demand for their products on online marketplaces, and even inform product design and marketing strategy.

For example, we’re seeing evidence that a lot of people are looking to buy a new costume this year, and that the “sexy nurse” costume may be more popular than ever. And even halloween supplies that had a strong year last year are on track for an even bigger year this year.

Either way, we’ll be keeping a close eye on these trends and more in the coming weeks and months.

To stay up to date on consumer behavior and ecommerce news, info, and trend analyses, be sure to subscribe to Pattern Insights.

And, if you’d like to learn more about how you can best leverage our data to help your brand win online, holiday or not, schedule a demo today.

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Sept 26, 2022

Top 5 Ways to Prepare for Peak with Google Ads

Peak season is almost upon us and with all signs pointing to it starting earlier than ever, with Christmas gifting searches now ramping up in August and September, it’s time to start preparing for peak. In this article, we’re sharing our top five tips for planning and preparing for peak season with Google Ads and the strategies required to get your Paid Search ready so you can drive success over this crucial period.

1. Go Early

In 2021, gifting search terms started increasing in popularity in August. The general trend is that people are looking, researching and weighing their options early, so it’s best to start your Paid activity early to ensure that you’re capturing that early research traffic. This will help drive revenue alongside aiding those consumers who are in their research phase.

From 2020 to 2021, spend during Cyber Week actually only rose 2% but in the weeks leading up to it, it increased by 16%. However, Cyber Week is still the biggest period during the latter half of the year, accounting for 23% of all online spend by consumers over peak. Being prepared and starting early will help you to maximise your time during this period.

2. Get Ready for Privacy Changes

 According to Google, 48% of global consumers have stopped buying or using a service due to privacy concerns. Privacy is front of mind when consumers are shopping online and we know that Google is phasing out 3rd party cookies in 2023. This is going to make it much harder to track users online and it’s something that brands need to think about this now – waiting isn’t an option.

From a Google Ads point of view, you want to ensure you have set up the Google Ads tag across your site and have enabled ‘Enhanced Conversions’, which ensures all conversions are tracked and allows you to monitor other actions such as ‘Add to Cart.’ This is relatively easy to set up, especially if you use ‘Google Tag Manager’.

It’s also vitally important that you build up your first-party data during this time as this is data you own and it can be used when targeting consumers that have provided your brand with their email address. Pattern’s own experience shows that by segmenting and using first-party data, you can see a 10% improvement in revenue and ROI.

3. Ensure Consumers Can Discover your Brand

A full-funnel approach is now more important than ever as consumers become more discerning and have more choices than ever of where to shop.

Pattern has seen success with Google Ads’ ‘Discovery Campaigns’ (image-based ads that appear on Google platforms such as Gmail and the Google app), which have driven success both from a traffic and revenue perspective.

The performance of these campaigns is significantly enhanced by adopting a segmented and nuanced approach to first-party data and incorporating these into your campaigns. Other options for a full-funnel approach include YouTube and testing bidding on keywords that are more representative of the research phase. (e.g. ‘best baby clothes’ for a baby clothes brand)

4. Get Moving with Performance Max

Earlier this year, Google announced that they were moving away from Smart Shopping and launched Performance Max. This is a new campaign type that incorporates features and placements from Smart Shopping but expands them onto other platforms such as Gmail but also alternative creative options, such as images and videos.

Since Google has already started automatically upgrading Smart Shopping campaigns to Performance Max, expect to see some fluctuations in the first 2 weeks following the switch over but results generally seem positive. We recommend upgrading sooner rather than later to limit any potential impact to peak period.

5. Flight Budgets Accordingly

Peak period will be even more competitive than in 2021 and you’ll need your budgets to support this period, we recommend boosting budgets in October to start capturing that early peak traffic. As we enter November and the Cyber Period, start early and make sure you are capturing those consumers looking for early bargains, ensuring you are being nimble in your optimisations and reacting to the data that you are seeing.

Overall, peak period is vital to help drive your sales and by preparing early, you will see strong results and drive success for your brand. If you want to discuss how your brand can navigate this next peak period, contact us to discuss your options with our performance team now.

Sept 20, 2022

4 Ecommerce Consultant Must-Haves

Entering the ecommerce landscape is a huge undertaking for any brand—it usually requires a large investment in resources and expertise to really be successful. Any brand can quickly get in over their heads trying to navigate the nuances of SEO, fulfillment and logistics, distribution control, listing optimization, and meeting the numerous other requirements and administrative tasks to show up well on marketplaces. 

Unfortunately, because it’s so easy for third party, gray market, and unauthorized sellers to obtain and sell products online, many brands find themselves pressured to execute an ecommerce plan without the right resources to succeed on marketplaces and their other channels.

So, for brands looking to enter the ecommerce space or improve their current and future performance, it makes sense to partner with an ecommerce consultant.

Pattern’s global presence and proven success with hundreds of brands has allowed us to develop highly effective ecommerce consulting services. We can guide your brand to navigate issues both large and small in marketplaces worldwide. To maximize your ecommerce efforts, you’ll need to understand what an ecommerce consultant does and how to select one who drives the right value for your brand and products. 

What is an Ecommerce Consultant?

An ecommerce consultant is a specialist in the ecommerce space who can give you personalized guidance on how to market your products and grow their presence on digital marketplaces.

An ecommerce consultant should be able to analyze your brand, audience, category, opportunity, and current roadblocks and help you understand how to utilize your resources (or what resources are missing) to be most effective in capturing your opportunities in the ecommerce space.

Not sure how to evaluate a consultant? Here are 4 key attributes to look for as you make your choice.

1. Brand Obsession/Specialization/Passion

At Pattern, we prioritize brand obsession for a reason—we know that a brand-centered mindset makes a crucial difference in the outcomes and results our partners achieve. So in our experience, when you begin your search for an ecommerce consultant, it’s important to look for a partner who is specialized in ecommerce, invested in the product, and passionate about helping brands build and improve their strategies. Typically, this means finding someone that consults exclusively for ecommerce marketplaces, rather than choosing a consultant who offers many different services. 

2. Proven Results

It’s also important to avoid choosing a consulting partner who can’t deliver the right experience for your brand. The best indication of whether your potential consultant can do that is to review their history, data, and results with other brands. Ask if they’ve helped others in your selling category, if they’ve solved specific issues your brand is facing, and why they feel you are a good fit. The key is to leave the conversation feeling confident that you understand your consultants’ capabilities and whether or not they match up with your needs.

3. Wide Range of Marketplace Expertise

It’s best to pick a consultant who knows how to guide a brand onto and through multiple marketplaces worldwide. You’ll want to take a look at your long-term strategy and think about the regions and platforms you’re currently on and where you might want to take your brand in the future. If your consultant is truly great at what they do, they’ll be able to help you perform well enough with your current product roadmap that it’ll be a no-brainer to expand your presence at the right time.

4. Network of Resources

The most effective partnership with an ecommerce consultant will be able to give you both recommendations and point you to solutions for making those changes in your planning, processes, and execution. Your time and money is valuable, so you want to make sure that you’re spending it as efficiently as possible as you follow your consultant’s advice. So, before you commit to an ecommerce consultant, ask about the resources and concrete solutions they typically recommend to the brands they work with.

Achieve Your Ecommerce Goals With Pattern

Finding an ecommerce consultant that checks the boxes can be a difficult task. At Pattern, our entire focus and drive centers around giving brands the tools and resources they need to succeed on domestic and international ecommerce marketplaces. 

With over 100 global ecommerce consultants across 10 global offices, we have the right tools to partner with brands across the world to achieve better ecommerce success. We give specialized advice, then make sure our partners have all the adequate SEO, social media, CRM, Amazon multi-channel fulfillment services, and ecommerce outsourcing services they need.

Interested in ecommerce consulting services? Set up a call here to learn what Pattern can do for your brand on global marketplaces.

Sept 20, 2022

Global Ecommerce Weekly News: 20th September 2022

Get up to date with this week's ecommerce headlines from around the globe. --- Amazon News --- Amazon to raise pay and add extra work benefits for delivery drivers Following the rise in fuel prices and protests by Amazon workers, the ecommerce giant is raising its delivery drivers’ pay and adding more work benefits. Amazon has mentioned that it will be investing $450 million into rate increases along with an education program and a Delivery Service Partners program. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/14/amazon-to-raise-delivery-drivers-pay-and-add-more-work-benefits/) Amazon announces it will give away shipping software to merchants at no cost Amazon has recently announced that it will be giving ecommerce merchants free software to manage shopper orders on and off its platform as it extends its reach. The ecommerce giant will be ending monthly costs for sellers using Veeqo, a shipping software it recently acquired and instead offer to them a new, free shipping software. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/16/amazon-to-give-away-shipping-software-to-merchants/) --- Other Marketplace News --- Walmart unveils new virtual fitting rooms In an effort to drive clothing sales, Walmart has launched virtual fitting rooms while competitors reduce spending amid the cost of living crisis. The virtual try-on tool can be used by Walmart customers to virtually measure the clothing items and see how the products would look on them. Shoppers will now be able to see how over 270,000 clothing items on Walmart’s ecommerce site would look on their bodies. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/15/walmart-launches-virtual-fitting-rooms-to-drive-clothing-sales/?utmsource=Retail+Gazette+Subscribers&utmcampaign=2da7f0f8f8-EMAILCAMPAIGN202209150742&utmmedium=email&utmterm=0d23e2768b6-2da7f0f8f8-61040615) THG slashes sales and profit expectations The Hut Group has slashed its forecasts for 2022 as rising interest rates, inflation and energy costs take a toll on consumers. Previously, THG estimated its sales growth to be between 22-25% but after a recent evaluation, has lowered this prediction to between 10-15%. Initial predictions did not take into account the negative effects of ceasing sales in Russia and Ukraine along with the impact that the cost-of-living has had on consumer spending. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/15/thg-slashes-forecast-as-cost-of-living-crisis-hits-consumers-wallets/) --- Other Ecommerce News --- DHL and Post Office team up to provide click and collect services Through a partnership between delivery company, DHL and Post Office, a new click and collect service is to be tested at Post Offices before rolling out to over 1000 branches across the UK. Online shoppers will now have the option of choosing their local Post Office as a collection point, and DHL will fulfil the delivery aspect, opening up networks for both parties. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/14/post-office-partners-with-dhl-express-to-provide-click-and-collect-services/) US consumer watchdog plans to further regulate the BNPL sector The US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has raised concerns regarding the collection of consumer data and the fast-growing nature of the BNPL sector, which includes companies such as Affirm and Klarna. The CFPB is worried that these companies could be negatively impacting consumers’ financial health and aims to put better regulations in place to ensure consumers are safe and empowered. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/16/us-consumer-watchdog-to-start-regulating-bnpl-sector/) Japanese ecommerce market estimated to grow by 6.9% in 2022 The ecommerce market in Japan, largely dominated by domestic online retailers including Reakuten and Mercari, is set to reach $194.3 billion USD in 2022, after seeing an annual compound growth rate of 5.2% between 2018 and 2021. This makes Japan the fourth leading ecommerce market globally, following China, the US, and the UK. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/13/japan-ecommerce-market-to-grow-by-6-9-in-2022/) Ecommerce brands are spending more on TikTok ads TikTok may soon be surpassing Facebook and Google as the most lucrative advertising channel, with ecommerce brands spending 60% more on TikTok ads in Q2. Facebook is still ahead as the top choice for ecommerce advertisers but only grew by 5.6% from Q1, while Google grew 20.5% in Q2, and Snap declined 10.8% in Q2. [Read more on SearchEngineLand](https://searchengineland.com/ecommerce-brands-spent-60-more-on-tiktok-ads-in-q2-387876)