NRF: Expect “Boo”-ming Halloween Sales

In Industry News, Marketing, What's New by Accessories Staff2 Comments

"Zombie bride" one of the top sellers at Party City

Washington–Although Halloween still has a long way to go to catch up to Christmas in sales, the National Retail Federation (NRF) reported today some frighteningly good news: more Americans plan to celebrate—and spend—for the holiday, the most since the NRF began its survey.

According to NRF’s 2011 Halloween Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey conducted by BIGresearch, seven in 10 Americans, about 68.6%, plan to celebrate Halloween, up from 63.8% last year. Better still, those celebrating are expected to spend slightly more too; the average person will shell out $72.31 on decorations, costumes and candy, up from $66.28 last year. Total Halloween spending is expected to reach $6.86 billion.*

One reason for the increase? Americans may want to let off a little steam as the Federal Reserve, some economists and retail analysts speculated recently that the country may be headed into a double-dip recession. Matthew Shay, NRF’s president/ceo said: “Many retailers have already stocked their shelves with Halloween merchandise and, given the popularity of the holiday this year, consumers should not hesitate when they find something that would make their celebration complete.”

In fact, this year’s October 31 celebration will be “far from tempered” as more people plan to dress in costume (43.9% vs. 40.1% in 2010), throw or attend a party (34.3% vs. 33.3% last year) and visit a haunted house (22.9% vs. 20.8% in 2010.)

Sales of Adult Costumes Far Larger Than Kid’s

While much of Halloween spending is on treats and decorations for kids, the NRF survey found that more adults will be spending more on costumes for themselves. The average consumer is expected to spend $26.52 on costumes.

“This year, Americans will spend $1 billion on children’s costumes, up from $840 million last year, and $1.21 billion on adult costumes, up from $990 million last year,” the NRF said. Nearly 15% of the shoppers surveyed said they plan to dress up their pets, too, shelling out some $310 million on pint size devils, pumpkins and witch costumes.

For this year's favorite "jerk" look: a Charlie Sheen mask

This year’s top themes for Halloween, according to Ressa Tomkiewicz, spokesperson for Party City, a leading Halloween retailer, include: zombies (usurping vampires), “Mad Men” characters, Monster High characters, superheros such as Captain America and Green Lantern; “Black Swan” looks, Charlie Sheen, “Tot Mom” Casey Anthony, Morph suits, and video/cartoon characters from the 80s and 90s.

Noting that spending on Halloween décor is second only to Christmas, the NRF also found 49.5% will decorate their home/yard. Other traditional celebratory activities include handing out candy (73.5%), carving a pumpkin (47.8%) and taking children trick-or-treating (32.9%).

As for decorations—from life-size skeletons, extra large inflatable pumpkins and fake cob webs—consumers’ estimate that will spend an average of $19.79.

“Thanks to creative costumes and décor for consumers of all ages, Halloween has become one of the most anticipated holidays of the year for many people,” said Pam Goodfellow, Consumer Insights director, BIGresearch. “As a non-gift holiday, even people on the strictest budget can enjoy themselves this Halloween.”

Consumers aren’t completely blowing caution to the wind this year, however. According to the survey, 32.1% said the state of the U.S. economy will impact their Halloween plans. To compensate, 87.1% say they will try to spend less overall. Others will make a costume instead of purchasing one (18.9%), use last year’s costume (16.6%) and buy less candy (40.2%.).

About the Survey

NRF’s 2011 Halloween Consumer Intentions and Actions Surveys were designed to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends related to Halloween spending. The surveys were conducted for NRF by BIGresearch. The poll of 9,374 consumers was conducted from September 6 to 14. The consumer polls have a margin of error of plus or minus 1.0%.


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