Halloween Spending Statistics, Facts, and Trends

2 Reasons Why Halloween Sales Hit $9 Billion in 2018

Three young girls putting frosting and candy on Halloween cupcakes at a kitchen table

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Halloween retail spending was estimated at $8.8 billion in 2019 by the National Retail Federation. It's a little less than 2018’s spending of $9 billion. Slightly fewer, 172 million, said they would celebrate. They spent $86.27 per person, less than last year’s record of $86.79 per person. 

Why Is Halloween so Popular?

One reason for Halloween's popularity is that it's a very affordable holiday. It doesn't cost as much as Christmas or Thanksgiving and is still lots of fun. Part of this is a permanent shift to thrift that occurred during the Great Recession. Shoppers are willing to spend money on something if it provides a lot of value. Halloween does that.

Another reason is that consumer confidence is at its highest level in 10 years. People aren't letting the uncertain state of the global economy scare them away.

  • Halloween sales can predict how busy the holiday season will be.
  • One reason for Halloween's popularity is that it's a very affordable holiday.
  • One of the most interesting spending trends in recent years is the increase in costume purchases for pets, particularly among millennials.
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 (Record) $86.13 $9.1 billion (Record)
2018 175 million $86.79 (Record) $9.0 billion
2019 172 million $86.27 $8.8 billion

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

What They Buy

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 95% of Americans will buy candy, spending $2.6 billion. Almost 72% will purchase Halloween decor, spending $2.7 billion.

The most expensive part of Halloween is costumes. Sixty-seven percent of Americans will spend $3.2 billion on them.

The top five costumes for adults were a witch, vampire, zombie, pirate, and superhero. The top five for children were princesses, superheroes, Batman, Spider-Man, and an Avengers character. 

More people, especially millennials, are buying costumes for their pets. Almost 17% will do so, down from 18% in 2018. The most popular pet costumes characters are pumpkin, hot dog, bumblebee, superhero, and cat (for dogs). 

The National Retail Federation hired Prosper Insight & Analytics for the survey. The company polled 7,419 consumers in September 2019. 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 1.2 percentage points. 

Halloween's affordability means that people are spending more now than even before the recession. In 2007, they paid $64.82 each.* Per-person spending hit a low point of $56.31 in 2009, climbing quickly to $66.28 a person in 2010, and $72.31 in 2011. 

Here's another surprise: Shoppers spent more in October 2008 at $66.54 per person 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. It was down 3.6% in the third quarter.

How It Affects the Economy and You

Record Halloween sales statistics buoys 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, 39% of shoppers begin their holiday shopping before Halloween. 

The retail industry produces 5.5% of U.S. gross domestic product.* Manufacturing contributes 12%. Retail sales are a reliable indicator of consumer demand, and that's what drives the U.S. economy.

Strong retail sales make it more likely that the Fed will continue raising interest rates. The Federal Open Market Committee is always looking for signs of a healthy economy. Record-setting retail sales are a critical component.

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Article Sources

  1. National Retail Federation. "Social Media Influencing Near-Record Halloween Spending," Accessed Mar. 5, 2020.

  2. National Retail Federation. "Halloween Spending to Reach $9 Billion," Accessed Nov. 29, 2019.

  3. The Conference Board. "The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index Increased Slightly in February," Accessed Mar. 5, 2020.

  4. National Retail Federation. "Halloween Spending to Reach Record $9.1 Billion," Accessed Mar. 5, 2020.

  5. National Retail Federation. "Halloween Spending to Reach $8.4B, Highest in Survey History," Accessed Mar. 5, 2020.

  6. National Retail Federation. "NRF: 157 Million Americans Will Celebrate Halloween This Year," Accessed Mar. 5, 2020.

  7. National Retail Federation. "Historical Spending," click on the "Average expected spending" tab. Accessed Mar. 3, 2020.

  8. National Retail Federation. "Historical Spending," click on the "Total expected spending" tab. Accessed Mar. 3, 2020.

  9.  Bureau of Economic Analysis. “National Income and Product Accounts Tables," Table 1.1.1. Percent Change From Preceding Period in Real Gross Domestic Product"; Select “Modify,” Select “First Year 2007,” Select “Series Annual,” Select “Refresh Table.” Accessed Mar. 5, 2020.

  10. National Retail Federation. "Winter Holiday FAQs," Accessed Mar. 5, 2020.

  11. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. "Value Added by Private Industries: Manufacturing as a Percentage of GDP (VAPGDPMA)," Accessed Mar. 5, 2020.