Halloween ’09 shaping up to be a scary time for retailers

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Zeezo’s President Mark Modeer isn’t sure the findings of a national survey about consumers’ expected Halloween spending are accurate.

Zeezo’s President Mark Modeer isn’t sure the findings of a national survey about consumers’ expected Halloween spending are accurate.

Consumers plan to spend less on Halloween festivities this year. Considerably less.

The National Retail Federation says consumers will spend on average $56.31 on candy decorations, costumes and party favors among other items. That’s down from $66.54 last year.

BIGresearch conducted the 2009 Halloween Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey for NRF Sept. 1-9 and responses indicated the poor state of the U.S. economy as the largest factor affecting consumer buying decisions.

Many consumers (46.5 percent) will reuse last year’s decorations, buy less candy, make their own costumes and participate in fewer Halloween themed events like haunted houses or festivals.

It might not seem like such a big deal to some. After all, Halloween is just one day. But the news affects a wide variety of retailers – from grocery and drug stores, chain restaurants, specialty retailers and discounters to catalog, Internet and independent retailers.

Mark Modeer, president of Zeezo’s, a downtown costume shop, said he’s baffled about how the NRF came up with its figures, but he confirmed that September sales at his store were down 6 percent compared to last year.

“We moved our store from Bijou Street to Tejon Street this month, so we only had about half of our products on the shelves during the first half of September,” Modeer said. “But we’re still anticipating 10 to 15 percent growth for the year.”

Modeer indicated that the fourth quarter is a pivotal time frame for his shop.

“We’re really only profitable from September to New Year’s, and its Halloween that fuels that growth,” he said.

Modeer has noticed customers are spending less this year, mainly by choosing fewer accessories to go with their costumes, but said the store is gaining more exposure thanks to its move into the heart of downtown.

“Our increase in customer base will more than offset the fact that people are being more frugal,” he said. “The challenging thing for us is in staffing our store. Business has been choppy and inconsistent so it’s hard to staff adequately and keep staff busy at slow times.”

Jammin’ on Tejon Street

Following a three-month renovation project, Rasta Pasta has opened its doors at 405 N. Tejon Street.

Owners Rebecca and Matthew Taraborelli and Greg Harris served Caribbean inspired pasta dishes to their first customers during lunch on Sept. 29.

Rasta Pasta represents the owner’s first foray into the restaurant business. The snowboard enthusiasts discovered Rasta Pasta several years ago during their frequent visits to Breckenridge.

Earlier this year, they succeeded in their endeavor to acquire a Rasta Pasta location of their own.

A slight hiccup in the construction schedule played havoc with the owner’s timeline.

“I wanted to have a full week to clean and test our equipment and train our staff before we opened, but as it turned out we were doing all those things as construction was wrapping up,” Taraborelli said. “The great thing was we didn’t have to move back our opening date, but we did have to dance around each other for a few days.”

Rasta Pasta will be open for lunch and dinner daily, with extended hours on Friday and Saturday nights.

The owners are planning a grand opening Oct. 9 and 10, when they’ll host reggae bands on both nights.

Scott Prater covers retail for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.