You’ve heard a lot from us about emerging nonline trends this year - and that trend continued this past Halloween season, where trick-or-treaters no longer recognized a divide between online and offline shopping.

Neither did smart businesses.

For years, costume sites made convenience and inventory the hallmarks of their success. This year, with increasing consumer demand around Halloween and more multi-good retailers getting into the game, those businesses needed to rethink ways to capture the interest of savvy shoppers.

This year we saw costumes retailers invest more than ever in mobile websites, video content, and improved product pages to engage with shoppers wherever they were searching, whether from the candy aisle or a haunted house. By ensuring they were present across all screens, these retailers were able to capitalize quickly on offline events, most predominantly those of the elections frenzy.

Practically overnight, Big Bird made the jump from Presidential debate quote to a digital supertrend, even for trick-or-treaters. Google searches for “Big Bird costumes” exploded online, with searches spiking more than 700% following the debate. Retailers like mobilized quickly on search and shopping to catch the eye of interested consumers, selling out of their Big Bird costume inventory in just three days. We saw similar spikes for “binders full of women” costume searches, which even outpaced searches for Mitt Romney masks. CafeMoms, one of YouTube's original channels, offered a how-to tutorial on how to make a "Binder Full of Women" costume from scratch, which racked up over 35,000 views.

Beyond binders, trendy trick-or-treaters got crafty with homemade costumes, with a little help from YouTube. DIY makeup tips for sugar Skulls and zombie mouths lead to some frightening original looks. And many trick-or-treaters took inspiration from YouTube for their costumes, looking beyond popular TV and film-based character options to YouTube stars for ideas. Retailers could market a whole new set of products and won an uptick in costume sales for YouTube stars like Gangam Style's Psy, The Annoying Orange, and The Guild.

Each costume search--whether Romney, Obama, Psy, or Big Bird--signified an opportunity for nimble retailers to connect with interested shoppers, wherever they were looking for costumes. Retailers who acted quickly and engaged with shoppers through tools like tailored search ads, how-to videos, and special offers won that zero moment of truth.

As we move into the holiday gift-giving season, retailers will continue to establish connections online that could only previously happen offline. And while we’re waiting to see what breakout toy trends emerge this year, you can bet costume retailers will be ready to go with the Santa suits.

Posted by April Anderson, Retail Industry Director for the Google Retail Team