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Marley DelDuchetto/MEDILL

Halloween sales are expected to reach $8 billion this year with the help of stores like Halloween Store on State Street.

Halloween spending to reach record $8 billion

by Marley DelDuchetto
Oct 31, 2012


Marley DelDuchetto/MEDILL

"I'm a dead pirate," said one child-shopper at a local Halloween pop-up store.

The amount of exercise needed to burn Halloween candy calories:

Kit Kat mini (2 bars)- Run: 16 minutes; Swim: 15 minutes; Cycle: 37 minutes

Fun-size Sour Patch Kids- Run: 16 minutes; Swim: 15 minutes; Cycle: 37 minutes

Fun-size Skittles- Run: 5 minutes; Swim: 4 minutes; Cycle: 11 minutes

Gone are the days of a sheet with two eyeholes doubling as a ghost costume. Americans are expected to spend a record-breaking amount this Halloween on costumes, candy and decorations.

IBISWorld, a California-based research firm, expects spending to grow 10.7 percent from 2011 to reach an all-time high of $8 billion. Seven in 10 Americans will get into the Halloween spirit, adding up to 170 million total celebrants. Each reveler will spend an average $79.82, up 10 percent from last year’s $72.31.

“Rising consumer sentiment and disposable incomes have allowed total spending on Halloween to increase every year since its low of $5 billion in 2009, which was a massive 18.5 percent decline from 2008,” said IBISWorld analyst Olivia Tang.

Costumes make up the largest portion of Halloween spending at 35.8 percent. Approximately $2.9 billion will be spent on costumes this year, a 12.2 percent increase from last year. Larger household budgets allowed shoppers to buy ready-made costumes this year rather than the do-it-yourself costumes that were popular during the recession.

Nearly half of people celebrating Halloween will dress in costume this year. More than 1 million adults and kids will dress as an athlete in 2012, according to BIGinsight Consumer. More than 750,000 people will dress in some type of political costume. With the election only six days away, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will likely be seen trick-or-treating together.

Adult costumes make up nearly 50 percent of spending, totaling $1.4 billion, the National Retail Federation estimates. Children’s and pet costumes will make up the additional 50 percent, with $1.1 billion spent to dress little girls like princesses and $370 million so furry friends can be devils for the night.

As adults continue their takeover of Halloween, pop-up Halloween stores are spreading across the U.S., taking up residency in empty retail spaces left by Blockbuster, Borders and other stores forced to shut their doors. Nearly 2,000 temporary retailers appeared during the month of October, including Halloween Adventure, Halloween City, Halloween Express and Spirit Halloween.

The bag-checker at Halloween Store on State Street in the Loop said she sees “hundreds of people a day” in the week leading up to Halloween. “Everyone comes in for last minute purchases,” she said.

Buying fun-sized bags of Skittles and miniature-sized Hershey bars for trick-or-treaters will add up to $2.35 billion this year, a 2 percent increase from last year and 29.3 percent of total Halloween spending. Halloween is the top holiday for candy sales, according to the National Confectioners Association.

The price of sugar, candy’s main ingredient, has grown an average 11.6 percent per year during the last five years. While chocolate and other candies’ prices have been driven up, Halloween candy sales are expected to remain strong.

“Candy is a very affordable luxury,” said National Confectioners Association spokeswoman Susan Whiteside in a statement. “The things that bring you a lot of happiness that don’t cost a lot of money tend to stay in your budget.”

Decorations round out the trifecta of Halloween expenditures with consumers spending $2.4 billion., up 23.7 percent from 2011. Décor is the fastest growing segment of Halloween outlays. Sites like Pinterest and help users find decorating ideas and share decorating tips.

Of the millions of people celebrating Halloween, 51.4 percent will decorate their home or yard, up nearly 2 percent from last year. More than 36 percent will attend or throw a Halloween party. Spending on Halloween home decorations is second only to Christmas, the NRF said.

Excitement over this 400-year-old holiday is not expected to subside any time soon. The NRF and IBISWorld both expect holiday spending to continue to rise over the coming years.