More than 171 million Americans plan to celebrate Halloween this year, and will have spent about $8.4 billion for costumes, parties, and candy in October, according to the National Retail Federation Survey.
Halloween spending, at about $83 per person, is at its highest since the retail trade association first began separately tracking the holiday in 2005. Overall Halloween spending of $8.4 billion this year will be up 65 percent from the $4.9 billion in 2007.
The presidential election years have always seen a spike in Halloween costume spending. This year’s candidate masks of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are the nation’s top sellers.
Unlike more traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, Halloween is less rooted and more flexible. The National Retail Federation research team’s annual survey conducted by Prosper Insights found there armajor shifts in consumer behavior.
For example, Halloween is no longer just for the children, or families with children. Millennial consumers (ages 18-34) are the most likely adult demographic to participate in Halloween, and the top spenders. With adults expected to spend an average of $31.03 on their costumes, millennials are expected to spend an average of $42.39. More importantly for retailers, the percentage of millennials planning to attend Halloween parties has jumped by 10.9 percent over the last decade.
Because social media makes sure that millennial partygoers can no longer show up without a costume, millennials will generally look to the Internet for costume designs, with 28.4 percent turning to Pinterest and 23.3 percent turning to YouTube for inspiration. Pinterest will have experienced twice the female traffic, and 50 percent more men will turn to YouTube than normal.
The retail survey also found that there is no hiding a bad costume in the era of Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. But “a clever costume makes for a buzzworthy addition to digital timelines.”
The number of families planning to go door-to-door trick-or-treating will drop to 29.7 percent, the second-lowest percent over the last 11 years. But community events such as parking lot “Trunk-or-Treating” and Halloween festivals are popping up as alternatives across the country. The survey found rising concerns among parents over food ingredients like sugar, gluten and nuts, and a general fear of taking candy from strangers.
About 47 percent of retail stores planned to dress up this year, marking an all-time high. Many shopping malls are hosting costume fashion shows or contests in order to connect with customers. Both the 45.5 percent of people who plan to carve a pumpkin, and the 20.9 percent of people who plan to visit haunted houses, are at a record high.
The survey found that children’s costume spending is expected to reach an all-time high of $1.17 billion, and that 16 percent of consumers are planning to dress up their pets.
But with changing millennial parent attitudes causing a shift toward gender-neutral children’s costumes, the survey found a number of pet owners wondering if their dog and cat costumes are sexist.