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When do People Start Planning for Halloween vs. Thanksgiving?

By October 23, 2015 No Comments

The National Retail Federation forecasts that America will spend $6.9 billion on Halloween this year, with party products, candies and costumes (including costumes for pets!) high on the Halloween shopping list.

As Halloween planning (and buying) starts with the search for new inspirational ideas, online provides a great resource, and social media sites prove popular for sharing exciting new ways to celebrate.

To learn about the online activities of those planning for the Halloween celebrations, we analysed the passively collected data from 2014*. We examined when people were most likely to search for Halloween related things on their Smartphone and tablet devices, and what exactly they were searching for.

Last year’s data shows that 21% of the Halloween related searches during the 6 weeks before the day itself took place on the final week before Halloween. Although that week is the busiest single week for planning, it’s important to notice that 79% of Halloween searches were done before the final week. Figure 1 demonstrates the peaks in Halloween related searches in late September and in October.

Halloween chart

As a comparison, Figure 2 shows how Thanksgiving related searches were distributed during the six weeks before the holiday. As we can see, the rush to prepare for Thanksgiving starts later, with searches increasing substantially two weeks before Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving searches are heavily dominated by food and recipes, that people may have more confidence of getting hold of last minute, while costumes feature heavily in Halloween planning, and therefore customers may perceive this as a more complex purchasing decision.

Thanksgiving chart

Spooky search terms

The picture below shows popular search terms used in 2014, which included the keyword ‘Halloween’ or ‘Costume’.

halloween search terms

* The data was gathered from 7,167 panelists who used Google to search during the six week period between 22nd September and 31st October 2014. This article concentrates specifically on 302 of those panelists who used terms ‘halloween’ or ‘costume’ as part of their search.