The Business of Halloween: Consumers Spend Billions – Here Are the Year’s Popular Costumes

A survey commissioned by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and conducted by BIGresearch projects that this year those between 25 and 34 will spend the most on the holiday. Last year, those 18 to 24 headed the spending list.

What Consumers Spend Their Halloween Dollars On

One-third of the survey respondents in the NRF’s Halloween Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey said the economy would affect how much they spend this year. Last year, Americans spent on average $66.54 per person. This year they will spend $56.31. Of the individuals negatively affected by the economy, 46.5% said they will spend less on candy, 35.4% said they would reuse last year’s decorations, 16.8% said they would make their own costumes, and 26.4 % said they would not go to a haunted house, fall festival or other Halloween-related event.

The NRF reports that the breakdown on consumer Halloween spending is:

  • $20.75 on costumes, including those for children and pets
  • $17.99 on candy
  • $14.54 on decorations
  • $3.02 on greeting cards

Halloween Activities Consumers Participate In

The survey also found that 62.1 % of those surveyed will take part in some Halloween activity, down from 64.5 % last year. Activities on the Halloween fun list are:

  • Wearing a costume (33.4%)
  • Carving a pumpkin (42.4%)
  • Going to or having a party (30.2%)
  • Giving out candy (71.2%)
  • Decorating the home or yard (47.3%)
  • Trick or treating (31.8%)

In the last several years, the NRF reports that Halloween decorating has boomed.

Most Popular Adult Costumes

The NRF survey also found that the top 10 costumes in three categories. For grownups they are:

  1. Witch
  2. Vampire
  3. Pirate
  4. Clown
  5. Wench/Vixen
  6. Cat
  7. Devil
  8. Scary Costume/Mask
  9. Athlete
  10. Police Officer

Most Popular Children’s Costumes

  1. Princess
  2. Witch
  3. Spider–man
  4. Pirate
  5. Pumpkin
  6. Vampire
  7. Disney Princess
  8. Star War Character
  9. Tinker Bell
  10. Batman

Most Popular Costumes for Pets

  1. Pumpkin
  2. Devil
  3. Bowties/Fancy Collars
  4. Witch
  5. Superdog/Supercat
  6. Princess
  7. Bat
  8. Dog
  9. Angel
  10. Bee

Last year’s record spending came even as the economy was turning sour. Jeff Goldsmith, owner of an army/navy store in Waterford, Michigan spoke about the holiday’s prospects to the editor of ANSOM (Army, Navy, Supplies, Outdoor Merchandise) magazine. In the article he was reported as saying that consumers wanted to forget their economic troubles for awhile and that Halloween was a fun holiday. He noted further that at Halloween, consumers shop for themselves as much as for others, whereas Christmas shopping is usually buying for others and is more stressful. The high rate of spending was because Halloween fell on a Friday giving more working people a chance to celebrate, he noted.

What’s Good for Halloween Sales

Some factors that can boost Halloween sales are:

  • Warm weather
  • The holiday falling on a weekend
  • Lengthy sales promotions
  • More Saturdays than usual in the month, allowing more shopping time. For example, in 2017 there are 4 Saturdays in October.

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