Halloween celebrations rise as consumers look to escape everyday realities

September 30, 2008
Written by National Retail Federation
The spookiest holiday of the year may bring a bit of needed relief to consumers and retailers. According to the National Retail Federation’s Halloween Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, more consumers plan to celebrate the holiday this year (64.5 per cent vs. 58.7 per cent). This year, the average person plans to spend $66.54 on the holiday, up from $64.82 one year ago. Total Halloween spending for 2008 is estimated to reach $5.77 billion.
“Though the economy is struggling, Halloween sales may be a bright spot for retailers this fall,” said Tracy Mullin, NRF President and CEO. “Consumers - who have been anxious and uncertain for the past several months--may be looking at Halloween as an opportunity to forget the stresses of daily life and just have a little fun.”
This year’s survey results are reminiscent from 2002 Halloween data. Though consumers at the time were uncertain about the economy and a host of geopolitical factors, Halloween spending was strong. The holiday was seen as a way for consumers to escape from the uncertainties of daily life. In addition, many consumers at the time saw Halloween as a way to let loose during an otherwise tense period. NRF expects to see some of the same patterns this year for Halloween, as evidenced by the fact that the number of people who plan to celebrate is up and that people plan to spend moderately more than a year ago.
This year, consumers will spend an average of $24.17 on Halloween costumes (including costumes for adults, children, and pets). People will also be buying candy ($20.39 on average), decorations ($18.25) and greeting cards ($3.73).
Halloween remains popular with young adults, as 18-24 year-olds plan to spend $86.59 on the holiday, the most of any group.
People will celebrate Halloween in a variety of ways, with the most popular activities including handing out candy (73.7 per cent), carving a pumpkin (44.6 per cent), and decorating (50.3 per cent). Many consumers will also dress in costume (35.3 per cent), throw or attend a party (31.1 per cent), and take children trick-or-treating (33.6 per cent).
“After months of bleak economic news, consumers are looking for a reason to let loose,” said Phil Rist, Vice President of Strategy for BIGresearch. “And with Halloween falling on a Friday this year, consumers may plan to celebrate all weekend long.”
The NRF 2008 Halloween Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey was designed to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends related to the Halloween season. The surveys were conducted for NRF by BIGresearch. The poll of 8,167 consumers was conducted from September 2-9, 2008. The consumer poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.0 percent.

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