Halloween Spending Expected to Drop to $8.05 Billion in 2020

Halloween Spending Statistics, Facts, and Trends

Three young girls putting frosting and candy on Halloween cupcakes at a kitchen table
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Despite the coronavirus pandemic, 148 million consumers still plan to participate in Halloween this year, according to the National Retail Federation's annual survey. Spending is expected to decrease by 8.3% in 2020, to $8.05 billion, compared to $8.78 billion in 2019. However, those individuals who will participate say they may actually spend up to 6.8% more. In 2019, the average spend was $86.27, and those who say they'll celebrate Halloween this year expect to spend an average of $92.12.

Key Takeaways

  • Despite COVID-19, 148 million consumers still plan to celebrate Halloween in 2020.
  • Total spending is expected to decrease to $8.05 billion, but the average person says they may spend up to $92.12 on Halloween this year.
  • Those participating say they plan to decorate their homes (53%), carve pumpkins (46%), and dress up their pet (18%).

Why Is Halloween So Popular?

One reason for Halloween's popularity is that it's a more affordable holiday. The holiday season around Thanksgiving and Christmas often sees tens of billions of dollars spent. Though that may change this year with COVID-19, shoppers are still willing to spend money on something if it provides a lot of value, and holidays do.

Halloween Spending 2012-2020
Year Americans Celebrating Average Spending Per Buyer Total Spending*
2012 170 million $79.82 $8.0 billion
2013 158 million $75.03 $7.0 billion
2014 162 million $77.52 $7.4 billion
2015 157 million $74.34 $6.9 billion
2016 171 million $82.93 $8.4 billion
2017 179 million $86.13 $9.1 billion
2018 175 million $86.79 $9.0 billion
2019 172 million $86.27 $8.8 billion
2020 148 million $92.12 $8.0 billion

*Not all of those celebrating are buying anything. That's why "Total Spending" is less than "Average Spending" multiplied by the number of "Americans Celebrating."      

What Are People Buying for Halloween?

Shoppers look to get a big bang for the buck, and Halloween delivers. What's the cost of a few bags of Halloween candy? Around 62% still plan to hand out candy, spending up to $11 more on the sweet stuff, along with decorations, in 2020.

The most expensive part of Halloween tends to be costumes. And despite COVID-19, 46% still plan to dress up this year, down only slightly from 47% in 2019.

The top five costumes for adults in 2020 are expected to be a witch, vampire, cat, Batman, and ghost. The top five for children this year are princess, Spiderman, superhero, ghost, and Batman.

More people are still buying costumes for their pets. The most popular pet costumes are pumpkin, hot dog, superhero, cat, and bumblebee.

The National Retail Federation works with Prosper Insight & Analytics for the annual survey. The company polled 7,644 consumers in September 2020. 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 1.1 percentage points.

How It Affects the Economy and You

Halloween sales can signal how well retailers may do during the all-important holiday season. The kick-off is Black Friday, which is about one month after Halloween. In 2019, 39% of shoppers had actually started their holiday shopping before November. 

The retail industry produced 5.6% of U.S. gross domestic product in the second quarter of 2020. Retail sales are a reliable indicator of consumer demand, and that's what drives the U.S. economy.

Strong retail sales can have an impact on the Fed and interest rates. The Federal Open Market Committee is always looking for signs of a healthy economy. Record-setting retail sales are a critical component.

Article Sources

  1. National Retail Federation. "Consumers Anticipate New Ways to Celebrate Halloween, Despite COVID-19." Accessed Oct. 14, 2020.

  2. National Retail Federation. "NRF Says 2019 Holiday Sales Were Up 4.1 Percent." Accessed Oct. 14, 2020.

  3. National Retail Federation. "Halloween Data Center." Accessed Oct. 14, 2020.

  4. National Retail Federation. "Half of Holiday Shoppers Have Already Started." Accessed Oct. 14, 2020.

  5. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. "Value Added by Private Industries: Retail Trade as a Percentage of GDP." Accessed Oct. 14, 2020.