Survey: Halloween sales to be more treat than trick

WASHINGTON — Halloween will be a popular holiday this year, according to the National Retail Federation, as more consumers this year are expected to partake in traditional festivities. 

According to NRF’s 2011 Halloween Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey conducted by BIGresearch, seven in 10 Americans (68.6%) plan to celebrate Halloween, up from 63.8% last year and the most in NRF’s 10-year survey history. 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.

“Eager to shake off the summer heat and forget about the economy for a few days, Americans are looking forward to having some fun this Halloween,” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay. “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.”

The survey found this year’s celebrations 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.) Additionally, half (49.5%) will decorate their home/yard and 14.7% will dress their pets in costume. Other traditional celebratory activities include handing out candy (73.5%), carving a pumpkin (47.8%) and taking children trick-or-treating (32.9%).

With celebrations increasing, spending is expected to slightly increase across the board as well. 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. Additionally, pet owners will shell out $310 million on pint size devils, pumpkins and witch costumes.

When it comes to decorations, more people this year than in the survey’s history will buy life-size skeletons, extra large inflatable pumpkins and fake cob webs, spending an average of $19.79. Spending on Halloween décor is second only to spending on Christmas decorations. Festive celebrants will also buy candy ($21.05) and greeting cards ($4.96.)

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