SCARING UP SALES

Retailers are expecting some pretty monstrous general merchandise Halloween sales next month.Many have reserved space for Halloween displays at front-end caps, seasonal aisles and along the Wall of Values. Retailers said they have boosted variety 10% in an effort to tap into the healthy margins that Halloween can provide.The continued popularity of Halloween parties and safer trick- or-treating activities

Retailers are expecting some pretty monstrous general merchandise Halloween sales next month.

Many have reserved space for Halloween displays at front-end caps, seasonal aisles and along the Wall of Values. Retailers said they have boosted variety 10% in an effort to tap into the healthy margins that Halloween can provide.

The continued popularity of Halloween parties and safer trick- or-treating activities has also prompted retailers to widen assortments in adult and children's costumes, party decorations, bake ware accessories and sell-through videos.

Here is what some retailers had to say about the season and how they plan to scare up extra business.

Angeli Foods, Menominee, Mich., is looking forward to a big Halloween season. Polly Smith, general merchandise coordinator, said the holiday will add 40% to 50% in holiday profit.

In an expanded mix, the retailer will devote half of a 27-foot-long seasonal wall to Halloween masks, makeup and other items. Four to 6 feet of space will be allocated to costumes.

"We're doing the holiday bigger this year, and the bigger it is the more people it will attract," said Smith.

By offering a larger holiday mix, Smith believes Angeli's can become "a one-stop shopping outlet for Halloween and keep shoppers from going elsewhere."

In addition, Angeli will set up secondary Halloween greeting card and plush pumpkin displays at the greeting card section. Displays will go up in stores mid- to late-September. Most co-op retailers at Associated Grocers, Baton Rouge, La., will set up floor shippers of basic Halloween items, including masks, small witches and flashlights, plush pumpkins and makeup priced up to $6.99, according to Sonny Ellis, director of health and beauty care and general merchandise.

Associated Grocers' members will set up several of these shippers. The actual number each unit uses will vary by store size, which ranges between 8,000 square feet to 80,000 square feet, Ellis said.

"We've seen a resurgence in the holiday in the last couple of years," Ellis reported, adding that adults accompanying their children are more involved in celebrating the holiday.

Harding's Friendly Markets, Plainwell, Mich., is adding adult costumes to its Halloween mix this year, according to Dave Lynam, nonfood buyer. In doing so, the chain will boost its price points on Halloween merchandise from the $5 range to $20.

"More adults also now wear Halloween costumes," Lynam said.

The merchandise will go into 60 feet of seasonal display space at three new superstores, which opened this year. The mix will also comprise makeup, pumpkin cutters and carving kits, party goods and related accessories.

Other Halloween displays will be placed in a minimum of 4 feet of space throughout the stores.

Harding's will cross-merchandise scary videos priced at $5 to $10 in Halloween candy displays. The chain will run quarter- to full-page newspaper ads featuring Halloween merchandise around Oct. 1, the week seasonal displays will be up at stores.

Houchens, Bowling Green, Ky., will use lean-back cardboard shippers packed out with basic products of masks, lapel pins and small decor items and party goods. Price-points will range between $1.29 to $5.99, said Dale Green, director of general merchandise and health and beauty care. Houchen's will have the shippers up for one month, starting Oct. 1. "Halloween isn't big for us, and we let the Wal-Marts, Kmarts and those people do this business," said Green.

Harmon's City, West Valley City, Utah, is increasing its Halloween general merchandise assortment by 10% with additional masks, plastic pumpkins and skulls, party decorations and a larger mix of makeup.

"This holiday gets bigger every year," said Kyle Holdaway, manager of nonfood.

Demand for home decorations is also growing, he said. Sales of items such as Halloween lights, window and doorway posters and sound-activated lit decorative devices are increasing each season, he said.

"Halloween as a holiday is growing, and people now seem to increasingly decorate their homes in a light-hearted rivalry with friends and neighbors," Holdaway said.

Harmon's will merchandise the Halloween mix both in a 64-foot seasonal display area and at the greeting card department. Retail prices will start at 69 cents, and reach $29.99 for miniature sound-activated, battery-operated coffins.

Cardboard shippers of Halloween-themed sell-through videos tagged at $3.99 to $15.99 will be cross-promoted at the seasonal area. The retailer expects to run a Halloween video rental special of "rent one and get the second rental free."

Harmon's may repeat a previous successful promotion of a free greeting card with the purchase of a roll of 24-exposure national brand film. "The holiday is good for pictures," Holdaway said.

At Houston-based Gerland's Food Fair, makeup, decorated cookie- cutters and cupcake liners, and small cake pans shaped like a witch -- all priced at 69 cents to $1.99 -- will be displayed for Halloween, said Kim Botkin, director of nonfood.

The chain opted to merchandise its bakeware accessories this year to take advantage of those planning Halloween parties, Botkin said.

Gerland's mix will include window decals and yard signs that say "witch" and "haunted house." Halloween general merchandise offerings will be priced from 99 cents to $5. The chain will promote Halloween nonfood with shippers of moderately priced audio cassettes of scary music near candy displays.