As most retailers put the finishing touches on their Christmas plans, Party City is already in the throes of its most critical selling season: Halloween.
With the spooky holiday accounting for 25 percent of its business, Party City has opened 275 pop-up shops, hired 35,000 temporary employees and expanded the seasonal section in its permanent stores by an average of two aisles.
But while preparations start early, much of the execution happens last minute. Because landlords sometimes have kick-out clauses allowing tenants to end a lease early, Party City may not know if it's secured space for a temporary shop until the middle of September, CEO Jim Harrison told CNBC. That gives the retailer a tight window to move product into these locations, and build awareness in a given market.
A real estate rush isn't the only time crunch the company faces. As consumers push back their Halloween shopping each year, some 40 percent of the season's roughly $575 million in sales occurs in the last week, Harrison said.
"It seems like every year it gets later and later," said the CEO, who plans to dress as the Cat in the Hat.