On the Surface


Christmas may still be top banana in retail sales — contributing some 30 percent of many stores’ profits —but the stats say Halloween is increasingly a holiday for the surface design industry to howl about. Retailers also give big thanks for Thanksgiving, especially when you figure in Autumn and other seasonal themes.

This Halloween season, the National Retail Federation (the world’s largest retail trade association) says that Americans are set to spend $8.4 billion, the highest figure since the NRF began surveying.

Excluding trick-or-treat candies, that breaks down to $3.1 billion on costumes (including pets’ dress-ups); $2.4 billion in decorations, and $390 million on Halloween greeting cards.  Such numbers should dazzle everyone in the surface business, we thought.  But who’s really paying attention?  We cornered three key players and asked three key questions:

Q:   How important to your licensees are Halloween, Autumnal themes, and Thanksgiving?       

Q.  What gets the most attention, scary or cute Halloween?  Traditional or sentimental Autumn and Thanksgiving themes?     

Q.  Now that we’re in the final quarter, what do you see trending for 2017, and beyond?

  Renae Lokpez, MHS Licensing, Minneapolis — “Seasonal sales are very important to our business, Christmas being at the top, followed by   Fall/Harvest, due to the longevity artwork can have during this season.  It has a broader appeal that starts in Autumn and runs through Thanksgiving.

“Specific Halloween and Thanksgiving are a need that we fulfill, both having a shorter shelf life compared to the other themes.

“The majority of our customers typically do not want scary Halloween images.  We get requests for whimsical, traditional, vintage, and styles that can  fit into general home decor, typography, for example.”

 John Chester, Wild Apple Licensing, Woodstock, VTAll three of these categories are important to our business. Seasonal decor is a top-seller for many of our customers and a favorite topic for our artists….consumers love using holiday-themed decor to add a fun and temporary new look to their spaces.

Fall and harvest-themed collections are just as important as Christmas, mainly because Fall has a longer shelf life. Consumers can see these products in their home for a longer period of time than, say, Halloween, which is a more in-and-out holiday (though one of our favorites here at Wild Apple!)

“What gets the most attention? It really is customer-dependent. Our artists are focused on creating traditional imagery, plus on-trend and fun designs for the season.

“Customer feedback is important to us. We don’t just create what we think is trending. We collaborate with our customers so that we are bringing out art collections that will help them build successful retail programs.”

Looking ahead to 2017:  “It has been an exciting 2016…and more than ever we’ve seen an appetite for original art in product design. Floralscontinue to be a top-seller across the board, along with holiday.

“Moving into 2017 expect to keep seeing painterly looks take center stage, along with shades of blue and pastels.”

Jennifer Nelson, Jennifer Nelson Artists, Arlington, MA —“Keep an eye on Halloween. Sure, it’s not as big a holiday as Christmas, but it has potential!

“Just as Christmas has snow men, Santa Claus and Christmas trees, Halloween has jack-o’-lanterns, skeletons and witches. Lots of images to work with and plenty of potential for greeting cards, party goods, and home decorations.

“So don’t hesitate to have some black cats and spooky characters in your mix. Halloween could become the next big thing in surface design. Can Thanksgiving be far behind?”