Pop-up Halloween stores exist all over the country. They usually start “popping up” in late summer or early fall, magically appearing with our monsoon weather. They set up shop in whatever retail space will take them. They have been seen in now extinct store locations such as Toys R Us stores and Sports Authority, as well as vacant mall slots. Then, a few days after Halloween, when the best candy in your kids’ stash is already gone, the mysterious retailer vanishes.
Joe Marver founded Spirit Halloween in 1983. His business has grown from one store in the Castro Valley Mall in California, to more than 1,100 stores across North America. They hire, train, and manage a 15,000-person temporary workforce. Halloween spending is expected to reach $9 billion in 2019, with the average person spending an estimated $86.20, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual Halloween Spending Survey.
The pop-up stores may only be open for a few months but keeping the business running is a year-round operation. The day after Halloween, when you regret eating all that candy and start thinking about Thanksgiving menus and Christmas shopping lists, Spirit’s real estate team is already on the lookout for locations for next season. Even though empty retail space is more common than ever, negotiating lease deals with property owners can take months.
These deals are good for both landlords and temporary tenants. It is better to have someone there for a few months as opposed to having it empty for a full year. Obviously, this is not as ideal as a permanent lease, but it is better than nothing with so many vacant big-box stores available. The downside is very minimal.
It is possible that Halloween stores will expand even more soon, and that other types of retailers may soon follow suit. I think there will continue to be a large inventory of vacant real estate. The question is, are there other models that we might see adopt similar strategies?