Shoppers spooked by local lockdowns: trick or treating cancelled, sweets and pumpkin sales look likely to drop

  • New data from dunnhumby Beyond shows trick or treating is off this year, with 54% of households who would normally trick or treat staying at home this year
  • Confectionery and Halloween decorations off the shopping list as increasing local lockdowns restrict parties and gatherings

London, 20 October 2020 – A UK shopper survey by dunnhumby, the global leader in customer data science, shows that Halloween looks likely to be a little different for retailers this year as shoppers adjust their Halloween habits to the latest tiered restrictions.

The latest dunnhumby Beyond research of over 1,000 UK shoppers from nine top grocery retailers comes as regional restrictions tighten across the UK and shows how much quieter this year’s Halloween will be for retailers. Only 61% of respondents who usually celebrate Halloween still plan to do so this year, and for those who will celebrate there will be a shift to virtual Halloween parties and smaller ‘family bubble’ celebrations at home. However, home celebrations bring positives for retailers, with over half of shoppers (53%) still planning to spend on party food and drink, with one quarter (26%) snapping up toffee apples, and nearly one in five people (17%) intending to buy apples for bobbing.

Survey data shows that pumpkin sales could be down as much as 50% this year, with just one in three (34%) shoppers saying they intend to buy a pumpkin from the supermarket, down from over two thirds of shoppers (68%) saying they’d usually purchased pumpkins in previous years.

Decorations will be off the Halloween shopping list too, with 34% of shoppers who would normally decorate their house deciding to skip the cobwebs and spider bunting this year; this will likely have an impact on retailers hoping for a boom in decoration sales as the ongoing Covid-19 uncertainty continues.

Trick or treat? We’re out.

Doorbell-pressing and communal sweet bowls are less appealing this year, with many shoppers saying they’ll take notice of local health advice and staying indoors. Just over half (54%) of households who would normally trick or treat said they will be staying at home this year, and just 12% of households surveyed still plan on going trick or treating as usual this Halloween.

The drop in trick or treating will have an impact on the amount of sweets purchased at supermarkets this year, with only 42% of shoppers intending to buy sweets, compared to 82% in previous years​. And those who are still buying confectionery are exercising caution with 35% saying they’ll leave sweets outside the front door, and 31% saying they’ll buy more individually wrapped sweets​.

dunnhumby Beyond Director David Halls says: “Trick or treating makes a big difference to retailers sweet aisle sales – we usually see a spike in multipack confectionery lines purchased in the run up to Halloween. This year looks a little different – Some regions will be impacted by forced restrictions on trick or treating, whilst in other areas people are being cautious about the situation.”.

Indeed, many households who normally celebrate Halloween appear to be fully cancelling the event this year, with 20% of people saying they will be battening down the hatches and putting up ‘no trick or treating’ signs this year. And if that doesn’t work? Nearly one quarter of respondents (23%) will simply be switching off the lights and hiding at the back of the house.

Up-to-date shopper data

dunnhumby Beyond provides the most up to date measurement of the UK grocery market, combining insights on purchasing behaviour with attitudinal research from over 200k shoppers who have downloaded the HuYu app.




The survey was completed by 1,100 UK shoppers, who had elected to receive surveys through the HuYu platform, between 9-11 October 2020. The results are weighted to be UK representative by age, region, and socio-demographics.

About dunnhumby

dunnhumby is the global leader in Customer Data Science, empowering businesses everywhere to compete and thrive in the modern data-driven economy. We always put the Customer First.

Our mission: to enable businesses to grow and reimagine themselves by becoming advocates and champions for their Customers. With deep heritage and expertise in retail – one of the world’s most competitive markets, with a deluge of multi-dimensional data – dunnhumby today enables businesses all over the world, across industries, to be Customer First.

The dunnhumby Customer Data Science Platform is our unique mix of technology, software and consulting, enabling businesses to increase revenue and profits by delivering exceptional experiences for their Customers – in-store, offline and online. dunnhumby employs over 2,500 experts in offices throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas working for transformative, iconic brands such as Tesco, Coca-Cola, Meijer, Procter & Gamble, Raley’s, L’Oréal and Monoprix.

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