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Spooky spending

Halloween expenditures expected to rise

Alicia Dutrow and her fiance, Jurgen Qatipi, both of Gallitzin, hunt for Halloween costumes at Spirit Halloween at the Logan Valley Mall on Oct. 1. Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski

It seems ghosts and goblins of all ages like candy — especially with peanut butter — just about as much as they like dressing up for Halloween as consumer spending for the upcoming holiday is expected to top $10 billion.

Plans to celebrate Halloween are up this year compared with last and are close to pre-pandemic levels, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics.

“Americans plan to spend more than ever to make this Halloween a memorable one,” federation President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement. “Retailers have implemented a number of measures, such as bringing in Halloween products earlier than normal, to ensure their shelves are stocked with seasonal candy, decor and other items ahead of this important holiday.”

At Blair Candy Co. in Altoona, Halloween is an important holiday, in fact, it comes in close to Easter as far as sales go, said Pam Macharola, director of ecommerce.

“Halloween is very big and the past five years has grown beyond our expectations,” Macharola said, noting that Easter remains the No. 1 candy holiday.

The rising price of candy has not deterred sales, she said.

“You would think it would, but no. Candy is a comfort food and when people want it, they will pay the price,” Macharola said.

Area grocery stores also see an increased demand for candy at Halloween, especially in the days leading up to the holiday.

“In 2020, more than one-third of all our Halloween candy sales were in the week leading up to Halloween,” said Luke Dreese, director of non-foods for Martin’s Food Markets and Giant Food Stores. “We expect this to be the case again this year as families look to celebrate after maybe missing out last year.”

Dreese said the number one selling candy in the stores last Halloween was the Reese’s snack size, followed by Kit Kat and Snickers.

“Reese’s Pumpkin snack size was also the number one seasonal-specific candy item last year,” he said. “We expect the peanut butter trend to continue this year.”

But at Gardners Candies, based in Tyrone, Halloween isn’t as important a holiday.

“It is more of a junk candy holiday like penny candy,” said President Joe DeStadio.

The holiday does seem to be geared toward kids, as households with children are estimated to spend more than twice the amount than households without children — $149.69 compared with $73.57 — on Halloween items.

The number of Americans planning to decorate for Halloween is on par with last year’s spike in interest, with spending on decorations continuing to climb to $3.17 billion, up from last year’s $2.59 billion, according to the national survey.

Total spending on costumes is the highest it has been since 2017, at $3.32 billion.

Spirit Halloween has a store in the former Sears location in the Logan Valley Mall and bills itself as the world’s largest specialty Halloween retailer.

“We rally around enthusiasts everywhere to perfectly and hauntingly curate every aspect of Halloween,” said spokeswoman Marisa Uzzolino.

“Our expansive collection includes classics from ‘Beetlejuice,’ devilish decor from ‘The Haunted Mansion,’ and our exclusive line of jaw-dropping animatronics. Our 1,425 retail locations, 3% more than last year, are staffed with 35,000 seasonal associates and prepared to follow all local and state guidelines so that everyone can score their Halloween favorites,” she said.

This year, consumer spending on Halloween-related items is expected to reach an all-time high of $10.14 billion, up from $8.05 billion in 2020, according to the National Retail Federation’s survey.

An estimated 65% of Americans intend to celebrate Halloween or participate in Halloween activities this year, up from 58% in 2020 and comparable with 68% in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, survey results show. Households with children are much more likely to celebrate Halloween — 82% — than those without — 55%.

Survey results also show that consumers are planning to celebrate the holiday by handing out candy (66%) and decorating their home (52%). Other top ways to celebrate include dressing up in costumes, carving pumpkins and hosting or attending a party.

With more Americans celebrating Halloween this year, average spending is also expected to rise. On average consumers plan to spend $102.74 on costumes, candy, decorations and greeting cards — $10 more than they planned to spend last year.

“This year in particular, we see an emphasis on Halloween spending from families,” Prosper Insights Executive Vice President of Strategy Phil Rist said in a statement.

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