Scary Tradition: Ursula Boschet has run Ursula’s Costumes for over two decades in Santa Monica.

Scary Tradition: Ursula Boschet has run Ursula’s Costumes for over two decades in Santa Monica. Photo by Ringo Chiu.

This year is expected to mostly bring treats for retailers, property owners, and employees in L.A.’s Halloween industry.

The improved economy, new costume trends, and the holiday’s celebration on a Monday this year have combined to raise expectations of a particularly profitable Halloween season.

Americans are expected to spend a record $8.4 billion on Halloween-related purchases this year, including candy, costumes, and decorations, according to a report by research firm Prosper Insights & Analytics commissioned by the National Retail Federation. That would be a rise from $6.9 billion last year and the highest amount in the 11 years the firm has conducted the survey.

Locally, there appear to be more temporary Halloween stores this year than last. Commerce-based Aahs, which owns six Aahs Gift Stores and two year-round Halloween shops in Los Angeles and Orange counties, has 20 Halloween Club temporary stores this year, up three from last year.

The company, which has about 150 employees year-round, hired 700 seasonal employees for Halloween this year. Aahs, founded in 1981, has several employees whose full-time job is to look for real estate for the pop-ups.

“Aahs is definitely the big player in the area,” said Derrick Moore, a principal at commercial real estate brokerage Avison Young who has worked with the chain. “They get out early. They have established relationships with owners that typically go back a while.”

Leases for the short-term Halloween shops usually start in September and last 60 days and can be lucrative for property owners who have a vacant space. Moore said a rental might be between $5,000 and $10,000 a month, depending on the size and location of the space. Retailers might pay a flat upfront fee or give a percentage of sales, such as a 50-50 split for sales over $50,000 or 6 cents out of every dollar on sales over $50,000 or $100,000.

Competitive market

That seasonal competition can be tough on costume stores that are open year-round, such as Ursula’s Costumes, which has been in Santa Monica for more than 20 years. A pop-up store opened up two blocks away this year, making business harder, said owner Ursula Boschet.

“They get everything cheaper and buy it by the thousands, and we can’t afford that,” said Boschet.

Almost 47 percent of Halloween purchases will be from discount stores this year, according to the Prosper report, followed by 36 percent at specialty Halloween or costume stores.


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