Halloween Spending Statistics, Facts and Trends

Sales Expected to Hit All-Time Record. Here's 2 Reasons Why

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

Halloween retail spending is projected to be $8.4 billion in 2016. That's a new record. So is the number of people celebrating at 171 million. They will spend $82.93 each, another record.

One reason is that Halloween is 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 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 nine years. People aren't letting the uncertain state of the global economy scare them away. 

Year   Americans Celebrating Average Spending Per Buyer  Total Spending
2016  171 million (All-time record)   $82.93  (All-time record)  $8.4 billion* (All-time record)
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   $79.82   $8.0 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 Do 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? More than two-thirds (70.9%) 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. But prices dropped in the last year from $40 to $32 on average. As a result, more than two/thirds of Americans buy them. It was less than half in 2015.

The top five costumes for adults are a Batman character, a witch, and animal, a superhero, and a vampire.

The top five for children are action/superhero, princess, animal, Batman character and a Star Wars character. 

Around 16% dress up their pets. The most popular pet costumes characters are pumpkin, hot dog, bumble bee, Lion/Star Wars character, and the devil.

The National Retail Federation hired Prosper Insight & Analytics for the survey. The company polled 6,791 consumers between September 6-13 2016. 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 percent. (Source: Halloween 2016,  National Retail Federation.) 

Historical Halloween Sales

Halloween's affordability means that people are spending more now than even before the recession. In 2007, they paid $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).


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, 40% of shoppers begin their holiday shopping before Halloween. 

Retailing produces 6.1% of U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP). When it's up, 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.

This good news will favor the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, in the upcoming Presidential election. That's because voters are more likely to go with the status quo when times are good.

It also makes it more likely that the Fed will raise interest rates in December.

The Federal Open Market Committee is looking for signs of a healthy economy, and record retail sales are a critical component.