Halloween is gearing up to be the biggest yet and is set to be a key marker for family spending in the lead-up to Christmas.

The festival has been creeping up retailers’ agendas over the years and, according to research by Planet Retail, UK sales of Halloween-related products are expected to hit £235m this year, up from £195m last year and just £12m in 2001.

The expected burgeoning sales could be a positive indicator for Christmas trading prospects, according to MHE Retail chairman Edward Whitefield. “Halloween is a very important indicator for Christmas sales,” he said. “Halloween is a time when impulsive spending takes hold, and discretionary spending is really under pressure.”

However, Whitefield held out little hope of a bumper Halloween. “What we’ll find is that the barometer will be low in Halloween spend and that will be indicative of Christmas,” he added.

But retailers are more bullish about Halloween sales. Sainsbury’s is expecting its biggest ever Halloween this year, boosted by the holiday falling on a Saturday, encouraging more adults to get involved.

Asda is confident of a big Halloween weekend and is pushing the event to its shoppers with promotions on sweets and costumes. Planet Retail research director Greg Hodge believes that Walmart’s American influence may have played a part in Asda and its rivals pushing Halloween.

He said: “Retailers are dedicating more space to Halloween stock in the style of the US, and see it as a route to more revenue.”  

The disappearance of Woolworths from the high street could provide an opportunity for retailers to grab a larger share of the Halloween market. While Woolworths.co.uk is selling themed products online, offline shoppers will be left looking for alternative outlets.  

Discount retailer Poundland is also offering a large selection of seasonal Halloween stock.