Halloween Spending Statistics, Facts and Trends

These Halloween Sales Facts Should Scare You

Halloween
Halloween is an affordable holiday for value-conscious families.. Photo: Blend Images - KidStock/Getty Images

Halloween spending was down in 2015. The number of people celebrating was the lowest since 2012. They also spent less per person. Halloween is a very affordable holiday. The fact that people aren't as enthusiastic as they used to be means they are really cutting back. The uncertain state of the global economy is still scaring many shoppers away. 

Until 2013, Halloween had been a bright note in the sluggish recovery.

Sales had risen 54% since 2005. Halloween's rise was caused by permanent changes that occurred during the 2008 financial crisis. Shoppers are attracted to Halloween because it doesn't cost as much as Christmas or Thanksgiving, and is still lots of fun. It's an example of the Shift to Thrift that occurred during the Great Recession. People were willing to spend money on something if it provided a lot of value. Halloween does that. 

Shoppers look to get a big bang for the buck, and Halloween delivers. What's the cost of a few bags of Halloween candy? More than two-thirds (67%) of Americans hand it out, spending around $25 each. Even spending on Halloween decor is reasonable, at just $30 per person. 

The most expensive part of Halloween is costumes. They cost, on average, more than $40 each. As a result, fewer than half of Americans buy them.  The top five costumes are Donald Trump, Maleficient's daughter Mal, artificial intelligence avatar Evie, Marvel's Scarlet Witch, and the PAW Patrol.

The most-Googled costumes are Batman villainess Harley Quinn, Star Wars characters, superheroes, pirates, and Batman.

Around 13% dress up their pets. The most-Googled dog costumes characters were Ewoks, Minions, spiders, Yoda, and Chewbacca.

Year   Americans Celebrating Average Spending Per Buyer  Total Spending
2015  157 million  $74.34  $6.9 billion*
2014  162 million  $77.52  $7.4 billion
2013  158 million  $75.03  $6.9 billion
2012  170 million (All-time record)  $79.82 (All-time record)  $8.0 billion

*Note: Not all of those celebrating are buying anything. Therefore, "Total Spending" is less than "Average Spending" times "Americans Celebrating."

This affordability means that people spend more than before the recession. In 2007, they only spent $65 each. Per-person spending hit a low point in 2009 ($56), climbing quickly to $66 a person in 2010, and $72.31 in 2011.  

Here's another surprise -- shoppers spent more in October 2008 ($67) than the year before. Why did shoppers spend so much during a recession? They didn't realize they were in a recession on October 31, 2008. The economy had just started contracting (down 3.6% in the third quarter).  

The survey of shoppers was conducted by the BIGresearch for the National Retail Federation. The company polled 9,393 consumers between September 5-10, 2015. The purpose was to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends related to Halloween spending. That helps the Federations' member retailers plan for the holiday. The consumer polls have a margin of error of plus or minus 1.0 percent.

(Source: NRF Halloween 2015

How It Affects the Economy and You

Lower Halloween sales statistics scare retailers. It signals how well they'll do during the all-important holiday season. That's when about 20% of retail sales occur for the entire year. The kick-off is Black Friday, which is just a month later. In fact, 40% of shoppers begin their holiday shopping before Halloween. 

Retailing produces 6.1% of U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP). However, when it's down, so is wholesaling (also 6%) and manufacturing (about 12%). Retail sales are a reliable indicator of consumer demand, and that's what drives the U.S. economy.

The financial press and the government focus on the wrong things, such as the Fed's interest rate hike, the U.S. debt, or problems with Obamacare. They forget that you can't have healthy economic growth (2-3%) without enough demand. And it looks like demand is withering. That's truly scary. 

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