Halloween returns and excess costume inventory are typically difficult to sell after November 1st. Once the trick or treating and parties have ended, there’s really no occasion to dress up. One option may be to hold on to the excess in hopes of selling it next year, but that will leave a limitation to order the newest costumes come fall of the next year, and there’s no way to know whether or not the year-old inventory will sell. Sounds frightening, right? It should. The good news is that like a horror film, overstock Halloween inventory doesn’t have to be reality. Brands and retailers can offload their excess and Halloween returns by tapping into the secondary market and leveraging liquidation auctions.

A Spooky and Strange Kind of Year

As if 2020 hasn’t already been scary in many ways, we are now coming up on Halloween, which typically offers consumers the opportunity to dress up as their favorite superhero, movie character, or even object—and attend parties and gatherings. Not to mention that it’s the best time of year for kids who happily journey along their neighborhoods collecting candy from their friendly neighbors. For Halloween costume stores, this is the time to shine. But with COVID-19’s changes, it’s unclear what awaits the spookiest night of the year. The CDC has recommended a number of alternative activities to the traditional trick-or-treating, which is considered to be higher risk. Some of these include socially distanced candy pickup stations and Halloween scavenger hunts—and in similar fashion, indoor costume parties are also being discouraged and outdoor, socially distanced festivities such as virtual costume contests and decorating your living space are offered as an alternative.

Halloween Spending Report 2020

So, we have a global pandemic threatening to ruin gatherings, and it’s likely less people will celebrate, right? Well, sort of. According to NRF, while overall consumer spending is expected to go down from $8.78 billion in 2019 to $8.05 billion this year due to decreased participation, the average amount spent per person is actually set to increase to $92.12 per person, up from $86.27 last year.

Total Spending

$8.78 billion$8.05 billion

Individual Consumer Spending


Why is that? Well, while less people will actually be out celebrating, they’ll actually be spending more money on purchasing things to celebrate the autumn festivity all season long. And with extra time on their hands, consumers started their Halloween purchases sooner than other years—kicking off Halloween-palooza in September. Now, we know how much people are spending, but WHAT are they spending it on?

What Does This Mean for Halloween Costume Stores?

In a survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics and featured in NRF, more than 75 percent of respondents said COVID-19 is affecting their plans to celebrate. Despite that, about 17 percent still plan to celebrate virtually. So, although activities and gatherings are being discouraged, consumers still want to be festive, which means they’ll still be spending—just more on home decorations and candy versus costumes. These efforts are there to keep traditions alive, even if by untraditional standards. Some safe, at-home activities that consumers polled plan to participate in include home decorations (53%), pumpkin carving (46%), and dressing up their pets (18%).

As spending shifts away from traditional costumes and outings and more toward other activities that will keep Halloween alive, retailers and brands need to prepare for the aftermath of an untraditional Halloween. And despite some things still being a mystery, one thing is for sure: the horror of Halloween returns and overstock will haunt you. If you’ve over purchased costumes—or even purchased the traditional amount ahead of time in anticipation for Halloween—you need an outlet to offset the loss of the costumes as well as a channel to recover some of the investment. Rather than letting the excess costume inventory and Halloween returns take up room in your warehouse, you can liquidate them to make room for new merchandise and in preparation for next year.

How Can You Deal with Halloween Returns?

In today’s retail environment, retailers and brands have to make sound business decisions when it comes to their excess inventory. Between being sound in a pandemic era and figuring out how to recover the most they can, liquidation is a good option, but liquidation companies aren’t the only option. There are also options such as B-Stock.

B-Stock helps nine of the top 10 U.S. retailers use private, online auction B2B marketplaces to sell their returned and excess inventory. These marketplaces are customized, integrated, and scaled based on the retailer’s unique needs—think of it like your own storefront to sell returned, excess, or other liquidation inventory. They also allow total control over who is buying the inventory and how it enters the secondary market.

How Online Auction Marketplaces Solve for Overstock:

Higher Pricing

A B2B marketplace offsets substantial loss for returned or excess inventory, even comparable to reprocessing back on shelf or returning to the vendor. Setting up an online auction dynamic where specifically targeted small business buyers compete to buy your merchandise allows pricing to go up.

Channel Control

With B-Stock, you control who sees and buys your excess inventory by marketing to a database of targeted, vetted secondary market buyers. Exposure to the right buyers ensures there is no confusion between primary (a-stock) or secondary (b-stock) channels and protects your brand.


Move excess inventory as needed—regardless of volume, time of year, or product category—with a larger buyer base made up of the right buyers.


Improve the operational efficiency of your liquidation program by automating your liquidation process. No more spreadsheets. No more faxing. No more negotiating over the phone. No more stress through the process.

Online Auction Dynamic

Extract buyers’ highest willingness to pay and have real data on secondary market prices. Increased competition through auctions means higher pricing; it also drives velocity and creates a sense of urgency and excitement.

Learn how you can choose a different level of recovery for your excess inventory by requesting a demo.
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