LIMA — Six-year-old Dakota Bassett spooned an Oreo McFlurry into her mouth in a Wal-Mart aisle at the Harding Highway store, smiling as she declared she would be Elsa from Frozen for Halloween again this year.
“It’s my favorite movie,” she said. “I like it when she sings ‘Let It Go.’”
“You want to be Frozen again?” asked her mother, Tara Bassett.
Though it may seem early to think about Halloween costumes, parents and children may need to start soon, as the costume Dakota wants and many others are flying off the shelves already.
In response to her mother’s question, Dakota just nodded and smiled, her missing two front teeth visible as she grinned. Tara said she hadn’t even started to think about costumes, as she usually purchases them in early October.
Next month may be too late. Not only are costumes flying off the shelves of stores. Specialty Halloween stores are also popping up. The first was Spirit Halloween in mid-August on Elida Road. Wal-Mart and Toys”R”Us set their Halloween displays up this past week.
The reason Spirit Halloween may have opened so early may be due to the market and sales it’s seeking.
“Seasonal Halloween stores rely on sales that come only one time of the year, so for this niche market, it’s essential to beat the competition and get ahead of the game,” Karen Grannis, spokeswoman for the National Retail Federation, a retail trade association, wrote in an email.
As for why other stores are putting their Halloween merchandise out, it may be because they’re taking cues from customers, Grannis said.
“If retailers recognize there’s a demand for any kind of holiday merchandise at a certain time of year, they will continue to find ways to put out that merchandise early,” Grannis said. “One-third of Halloween shoppers say they begin before October, so for retailers, it’s important to get their brand out there and offer attractive sales and promotions as early as they can.”
With stores putting out merchandise as early as they can, it may be essential for customers to get to the store as early as possible as well, Grannis said.
“Consumers looking for very specific costumes, décor and other Halloween items should consider shopping early, as popular merchandise moves fast, and retailers’ inventory won’t last forever,” she said.
Local retailers are seeing a lot of people out looking for costumes early as well.
“I think a lot of people are realizing it’s easier to buy them when they first see them than wait when they’re sold out size-wise,” said Lindsay Hershey, team member at the Lima Toys”R”Us. “They just want to get what their kid wants to wear.”
And with “Frozen” being so popular, many children may not get the costume if their parents don’t begin shopping earlier than usual.
“We’re almost sold out in the little time we’ve been open,” said Spirit Halloween Manager Trish Parsons, of the Frozen costumes.
Spirit Halloween doesn’t have any guarantee that it will get more Frozen costumes once the few in the store are gone, Parsons said.
Ebony Thompson, whose daughter wants to be a princess and favors Disney’s “Sophia the First,” was in Wal-Mart this week looking for a costume for her 4-year-old, Nadia.
Though her daughter wants one of the most popular costumes out, Thompson isn’t worried about getting it for her daughter.
“I go online and order,” she said. She hopes she won’t have to this year, but she wasn’t ready to see the costumes when she went into Wal-Mart last week.
“It’s not even close to October yet,” she said. “I just bought school supplies … I don’t know if they’re trying to capitalize on it or what, but the stuff is out a month early.”
Hershey said there has been more interest in the costumes at Toys”R”Us so far this year than there was at this time last year.
“We’ve been selling some of the costumes already. We have people calling in,” said Lindsay Hershey, team member at Toys”R”Us.
Halloween compares favorably to shopping for other holidays, Grannis said.
“It is definitely one of the most popular holidays of the year, but I don’t think it’s as big as Christmas in terms of the rush to shop,” she said.