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Real Estate Zombies: Shuttered Stores Return to Life for Halloween

Boston Globe (09/23/15) Rosenberg, Joyce

Spirit Halloween is reincarnating and reinvigorating vacant store spaces in shopping centers nationwide with its chain of more than 1,150 pop-up shops. Former big-box stores are now selling Halloween costumes, accessories, and other Halloween holiday decor as the company looks to cram a lot of business into a short period of time. Its staff swells from the hundreds to more than 20,000 beginning each June, and it makes its revenue for the entire year generally in less than three months. "We are equivalent to an army operation in terms of the way we mobilize and move products," states CEO Steven Silverstein.

Pop-up stores have been around for many years, but the trend got a big boost when retailers got the idea of short-term rentals for holidays like Halloween and Christmas. Such stores also proved to be a great way to lease space during the recession and remain a go-to for property owners and managers still struggling. Spirit Halloween was launched in 1983, as the holiday's focus was evolving from children and trick-or-treating to parties for people of all ages. Estimates of what consumers spend on Halloween vary widely, running as high as $11.4 billion on costumes, decorations, and candy in 2014, reports the International Council of Shopping Centers. "It has become the national party that everyone participates in," Silverstein says.
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