A parade of Spider-Men, dinosaurs, and the kids from "Stranger Things" will likely be ringing your doorbell this weekend. However, adults, schools, and communities are also planning their celebrations. Together, Halloween spending should top $10.2 billion.
That's the expectation of the National Retail Federation, which would top last year's record haul of $10.1 billion. More Americans are celebrating Halloween than they have since the onset of COVID-19. Approximately 68 percent of consumers in 2022, versus 69 percent in pre-COVID 2019, are splurging on candy, costumes, lawn decorations, and other Halloween-themed merchandise.
And don't forget the household pet, Fido, is also getting into the act. Costumes for pets are boosting sales this year and can total $700 million, out of a total of $3.6 billion in U.S. costume sales overall. Better still, since spook night falls on a Monday, the family can celebrate throughout the entire weekend.
Normally, Halloween budgets tend to increase when there are multiple days to celebrate. This year, college students and other adults can start partying on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, plus Sunday and Monday for community events and family outings. In many cases, successive nights of parties can require multiple costumes as well, and there are plenty of dress-up themes to tempt those in the market.
While witches topped the list of costumes for 2022 for children, plenty of new costumes are proving popular with adults. Elvis and Priscilla Presley, Patrick Bateman from "American Psycho," DC Comic's Harley Quinn, "Hocus Pocus" characters, as well as "House of the Dragon" and "Lord of the Rings" outfits.
Miles, my 11-year-old grandson, will be flying high as Maverick in "Top Gun," while granddaughter Maddie, a few years younger, will be terrorizing the neighborhood as a vampire. If I know her, she will be testing out her fangs on anyone less wary than Abe Van Helsing.
To be sure, supply chain issues continue to plague the availability of everything, including Halloween-oriented products. Generally, the good decorations, costumes, and candy started to disappear off the shelves by the end of September 2022. Retailers have done what they could to alleviate the problem. Some companies have used air freight to avoid the backlog of container ships at U.S. ports, but in the end, those who shopped early won.
On the inflation front, candy prices have experienced the largest yearly spike in prices ever recorded, according to the U.S. Labor Department. The combination of soaring flour, milk, and sugar prices, as well as higher labor costs, has pushed up candy prices by 13 percent versus last year.
The NRF expects most consumers to spend $100 to celebrate Halloween, which is lower than last year's record of $103. My daughter and son-in-law shopped early. In addition to the costume costs, they spent $150 to decorate the outside of their home and another $150 for neighborhood candy. My kids live in New York City, so everything is more expensive, but they usually tend to spend more than average in celebrating Halloween.
In addition to the retail segment, communities and schools are also celebrating. In my town, a community collaboration by MassDevelopment's Transformative Development Initiative and Downtown Pittsfield TDI Partners celebrated Halloween on Friday, Oct. 21, 2022. "It's Alive" turned out to be a gala event, lining both sides of the main street, and included a kid's fun zone, a monster treasure, and candy hunt, music, as well as live performances from local artists and troupes.
Adults enjoyed a "Zombie Pub Crawl" and a night market of local vendors. The entire community showed up, many in costumes, willing and able to spend money and generally have a great time.
"We estimate it costs about $10,000 overall," said Rebecca Brien, managing director of Downtown Pittsfield Inc., "and it was a great success with as many as 500 kids, plus adults, who showed up."
I believe as time goes by, Halloween will become a bigger holiday in America, if it isn't already. Being able to dress up, become someone we're not, and shed some of the daily trials and tribulations that beset most of us may be just what the doctor might order.
Bill Schmick is the founding partner of Onota Partners, Inc., in the Berkshires. His forecasts and opinions are purely his own and do not necessarily represent the views of Onota Partners Inc. (OPI). None of his commentary is or should be considered investment advice. Direct your inquiries to Bill at 1-413-347-2401 or email him at email@example.com.
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