Tesco seeks to spook rivals with Halloween drive

LONDON Thu Sep 30, 2010 11:04am BST

A man carries a carrier bag as he leaves a Tesco supermarket in Hendon in London January 12, 2010. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

A man carries a carrier bag as he leaves a Tesco supermarket in Hendon in London January 12, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Stefan Wermuth

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LONDON (Reuters) - Tesco has launched its biggest ever Halloween campaign, as retailers increasingly look to one-off events to open the wallets of shoppers worried about rising taxes and unemployment.

Tesco said it expected to sell 55 million pounds of Halloween-related goods, including 1.4 million pumpkins, 1.5 million fancy dress costumes and 1 million copies of an exclusive film with Dreamworks: "Monsters vs Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space."

Once a minor festival on the British calendar, Halloween has grown in popularity in recent years, encouraged by retailers looking to bridge a gap between the post-summer holiday return to school and Christmas.

Market researchers Nielsen estimate Halloween was worth around 300 million pounds to food and drink retailers in the three weeks to October 31 last year.

That was up about 4 percent on the year before, but within that figure were big market share gains by supermarket groups following the demise of variety store chain Woolworths in early 2009.

"Halloween has become one of the main seasonal events during the last 10 years, with Tesco Halloween sales almost trebling since 2005," said Tesco's UK marketing director Carolyn Bradley.

"Halloween has overtaken Valentine's Day (for Tesco) so that today only Christmas and Easter are bigger."

(Reporting by Mark Potter; Editing by Will Waterman)

($1=.6308 Pound)

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