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Dr Jeff Bray on BBC Radio Solent

31 October 2012

Dr Jeff Bray, senior lecturer in Marketing and Retail Management at BU, was on BBC Radio Solent’s breakfast show discussing the consumerism of Halloween.

Jeff said Halloween was "very good for business" but is interesting because it has only become such a big event for the retailers relatively recently.

He said ten years ago Halloween would only have been worth around £12 million for the retail industry, but has grown substantially and this year it is estimated that around £100 million of goods will be sold.

"It is very big business," he told BBC Radio Solent’s breakfast show presenter Julian Clegg.

"We’ve actually seen Halloween grow so rapidly and so large that now it is bigger than Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day – it is the third biggest retail event in the year behind Christmas and Easter."

He added that a lot of children will see Halloween items in the supermarket and use "pester power" to demand them from their parents.

"The supermarkets’ argument would go that they are only putting those goods into the stores because that is what the customers are buying and demanding.

"But, of course, there’s always a little bit of a chicken and egg argument with these things – that the customers are only buying because it is there and, in many cases it might be reluctant parents paying for things that they are being nagged by their children to get."

He said that he thought the commercial growth of Halloween in the UK seemed to coincide with American company Walmart buying ASDA in 1999.

"With Halloween being so much bigger in America than it was in the UK, I think that it led to ASDA starting to up the ante and introduce lots of ranges, and, of course, the likes of Sainsbury’s and Tesco and their other competitors have followed suit."

He added that he thought Halloween did have a place in British culture.

"Obviously, it comes in what is often a very dark and dreary time of year and adds a bit of colour and cheer," he said.

"I’ve never had a miserable trick or treater coming to my door so anything that cheers up a dark November is gratefully received."

He said that his outside light would be on and he had a bag of treats at the door, ready to greet trick or treaters.

"I enjoy seeing the fun on the kids’ faces, and who would I be to not help them enjoy themselves?"

You can listen to Jeff on BBC Radio Solent’s breakfast show for the next seven days.

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