For Halloween 2012, the National Retail Federation said that shoppers planned to spend about $79.82 each, more than they spent in 2011 ($72.31), 2010 ($66) and in 2009 ($56). Surprisingly, it's also more than they spent before the recession in 2007 ($65).
Here's another surprise -- shoppers spent more in October 2008 ($67) than the year before. You might think it's odd that shoppers would spend so much during what we now know was a recession year, but they didn't really realize they were in a recession on October 31, 2008. The economy had just started contracting (down 3.6% in the third quarter). More important to most Americans, unemployment was "only" 6.5% -- the highest in 14 years, but relatively low by today's standards. In addition, consumers had more access to credit, as credit card debt hadn't plummeted to current levels.
Why Halloween Is So PopularA record-setting 71.5% of Americans planned to celebrate Halloween in 2012, up from 68.6% in 2011 and 64% in 2010. Total Halloween spending was expected to reach almost $8 billion, a healthy increase from the $7 billion spent last year. That increase could be because post-recession shoppers are looking for value, and Halloween is much less expensive -- and sometimes more fun -- than other holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Shoppers look to get a big bang for the buck, and Halloween delivers. What's the cost of a few bags of Halloween candy? Nearly three-quarters (73.5%) of Americans agreed they would hand out candy in 2012, spending $21.05 each.
Nearly half (49.5%) said they would decorate their home or yard. In fact, spending on Halloween decor ($19.79 per person) was second only to that spent for Christmas. Almost as many (47.8%) said they would carve a pumpkin. Nearly a third (32.9%) planned to take their children out trick-or-treating. (Note: These are figures from 2011. The NRF didn't ask these questions in the 2012 survey.)
Involvement in other Halloween activities was up when compared to past years. More planned to get a costume for themselves (45% vs 43.9% in 2011 and 40.1% in 2010) or go to a party (36% vs 34.3% in 2011 and 33.3% in 2010).
What exactly did they spend most of their dollars on? Costumes! On average, they spent $28.65 per person in 2012, more than the $26.52 they spent in in 2011. It's about evenly divided between children and adult costumes. In 2011, they spent $1 billion on children's costumes ($840 million in 2010) and $1.21 billion on adult costumes ($990 million in 2010).
For the 76 million adults that are dressing up, the most popular disguises in 2012 were witches (9.5%), vampires (5.2%) and pirates (4.6%) thanks to popular TV shows and movies. Although less popular, Batman (3.7%), zombies (3.6%) and vixens (1.9%) ranked next. More than 64 million children will be in costume, mostly as superheros such as Batman, Spiderman or Superman (15%), princesses (12.8%), witches (4.5%), or vampires (2.9%). (Source: NRF data, Halloween Costume Survey)
In 2012, 15% will put a costume on their pet. This was more than the 14.7% who did last year, spending $310 million in the process. The most popular pet costume was a pumpkin (12.7%), devil (6.9%) or hot dog (5.7%). Oddly enough, some pet owners wanted to confuse their animal by dressing their dog up like a cat (3.7%) or their cat like a dog (3.3%).
Despite this increase in spending, most consumers (83%) at least said they'd try to spend less (fewer than the 87% who cut back last year). How? Nearly one out of five (18%) made their own costume and one out of three (36.1%) promised to buy less candy. The state of the economy was driving this for nearly 20% of Halloween shoppers, down from a third who said so last year.
As put so well by National Retail Federation researcher Pam Goodfellow, "Thanks to creative costumes and decor for consumers of all ages, Halloween has become one of the most anticipated holidays of the year for many people. As a non-gift holiday, even people on the strictest budget can enjoy themselves this Halloween.
The survey of shoppers was conducted by the BIGresearch for the National Retail Federation. The poll was taken of 9,393 consumers between September 5-11, 2012. The purpose was to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends related to Halloween spending to help retail members of the Federation in their planning. The consumer polls have a margin of error of plus or minus 1.0 percent. (Updated October 24, 2012)