Halloween season begins after Labor Day

The New York Times has an article titled “After Labor Day, Go Directly to Halloween,” which details the push to start merchandising the holiday early in September instead of waiting for October.

A primary goal of the early peddling, those involved say, is to satisfy the needs of consumers who are already in the mood for Halloween. The holiday has grown in the last decade to become a popular and lucrative part of the retail and editorial calendars as adults join children in celebration.

“We’ve found our customers begin thinking about Halloween shortly after Labor Day,” said Karen Burk, a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart Stores in Bentonville, Ark., the largest retailer in the nation.

This year, the Wal-Mart stores were in Halloween mode by Sept. 8 and 9, the weekend after Labor Day.

At the Target division of Target, Halloween products went on display in stores in early September, said Amy von Walter, a spokeswoman in Minneapolis. On the Target Web site (target.com), she added, Halloween merchandise has been available even longer, since Aug. 1.

At Kmart, a division of Sears Holdings, the stores took on their Halloween dress on Sept. 4, the day after Labor Day, said Kirsten Whipple, a spokeswoman in Hoffman Estates, Ill.

Similarly, executives at magazines and magazine Web sites ascribe the celebration of Halloween in September to reader demand.

“We noticed about five years ago that right after Labor Day, right after back-to-school, we were getting an uptick in hits on the Web site on information about Halloween costumes,” said Dan Hickey, editor in chief at bhg.com in Des Moines, the Web site for Better Homes and Gardens magazine, “and it kept growing.”