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The Retired Investor: Halloween Spending Expected to Hit a Record
By Bill Schmick, iBerkshires columnist
02:56PM / Thursday, October 26, 2023

Spending on candy, costumes, decorations, and parties is rising. The expected amount Americans plan to spend on Halloween is $12.2 billion in 2023, according to the National Retail Federation NRF). That beats last year's record of $10.6 billion.
More Americans than ever are celebrating with 79 percent of people participating, which is greater than last year and exceeds pre-pandemic levels as well. In addition, 76 percent of adult American pet owners plan to put their pets in costumes, according to a PetSmart national survey. The average amount consumers will pay to celebrate the holiday is $108.24 versus $102.74 last year.
Candy is still at the top of the agenda for households. They will spend $3.6 billion in rewarding trick-or-treaters at their doors. Those doors, as well as front steps, interiors, and yards, will be decorated with pumpkins, spider webs, skeletons, etc. Those decorations will total $3.9 billion, even more than consumers will spend on candy.
Halloween parties are also gaining increased popularity, especially among Gen Z and millennials. The three great elements of such parties are costumes, the food, and the decorations. While today's partygoers may believe they are forging a new trend in entertainment, Halloween parties are simply a blast from the past.
In the late 1800s, Halloween parties for both children and adults became the most common way to celebrate the holiday. Parties focused on games, foods of the season, and festive costumes. By the 1920s and 1930s, the holiday had become a community-centered event with parades and townwide Halloween parties as the featured event.
So, it's "back to the future" this year as more than 32 percent of American consumers plan to attend or throw a Halloween party. And like days of old, beyond your typical neighborhood get-together, there are long lists of Halloween parties (now listed on the internet) for just about every community in the nation.
However, it is costumes that have garnered the greatest spending — $4.1 billion, up from $3.6 billion last year. More consumers than ever (69 percent) are planning to buy costumes this year. Adult costumes saw an 18 percent increase, while children accounted for a 20 percent gain. Spider-Men, princesses, ghosts, witches, and other superheroes still account for the lion's share of children's preferences. This year aside from the traditional stable of vampires, witches and Batman, Barbie and Ken will be top picks for adults.
A growing new category for costume demand is pet costumes. The NRF believes consumers intend to spend as much as $700 million on costumes for their pets. Dogs seem to be the target of most owner's costume spending, according to another survey by Honest Paws.
The most popular costumes include a pumpkin, a hot dog, a bat, a bumblebee, a spider, and Chucky. Most owners planned to spend under $50 for Fido's disguise, but a third of dog owners admitted that they spent more money on their dog's costume than their own.
Another trend that seems to appeal to most costume buyers with pets is matching outfits for both owner and dog. Do not be surprised therefore to see a Batdog and Robin knocking on your door.  Almost 50 percent of owners plan to bring their dog along for trick-or-treating and more than one quarter will be competing in costume contests with their pet.
Just a side note on pet costumes. My canines, both past and present, would run for the hills at the drop of a costume hat. Most pets that show similar signs should never be forced to wear a costume. If you absolutely must dress your pet in something, make sure whatever costume you select allows your pet to be able to move and breathe easily. Clothing that resembles a traditional dog vest, or T-shirt that doesn't cover the entire body and head are the best. You may not win that neighborhood costume contest, but your pet will thank you for it, and Halloween for both of you will be far more memorable. 

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

Anyone seeking individualized investment advice should contact a qualified investment adviser. None of the information presented in this article is intended to be and should not be construed as an endorsement of OPI, Inc. or a solicitation to become a client of OPI. The reader should not assume that any strategies or specific investments discussed are employed, bought, sold, or held by OPI. Investments in securities are not insured, protected, or guaranteed and may result in loss of income and/or principal. This communication may include opinions and forward-looking statements, and we can give no assurance that such beliefs and expectations will prove to be correct. Investments in securities are not insured, protected, or guaranteed and may result in loss of income and/or principal. This communication may include opinions and forward-looking statements, and we can give no assurance that such beliefs and expectations will prove to be correct.


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