Halloween is heading our way this weekend, but with its pumpkin-flavoured American feel, is the festival really a sign of ‘cultural climate change’ or just a small element of the ‘seasons of selling’?
RMIT University cultural expert Adjunct Professor Stephen Alomes is a historian who has researched the Halloween phenomenon in Australia, France and Japan.
“Halloween is the shortest of the ‘seasons of selling’ along with other invented days for giving after shopping such as Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Christmas,” he said.
“Unlike in the US, where expenditure is huge, the marketing weakness of Halloween in Australia is that it is short‐lived and involves a growing, but still limited product range.
“Two weeks out from Halloween, some shops were already discounting their Halloween lines.
“Australia’s biggest department store chain, Myer, has already launched its Christmas marketing, focusing on the main game in retail sales.
“In the crowded market of selling, Halloween in Australia is still small beer – unless you are a confectionery manufacturer or a party goods supplier.”
Mr Alomes said while the selling side of Halloween was still small, its impact as a cultural phenomenon was growing.
“Pumpkins are appearing out of season in Australia and out of place in Japan, making Halloween a sign of a kind of a cultural ‘climate change’,” he said.
“The appeal of Halloween outside America is wide ranging – from kids who just want any excuse for lollies and community libraries that celebrate it as just another multicultural festival, to teenagers who just want any excuse for a party.
“The world is being not only globalised, but Americanised and ‘Halloweenised’.”