New consumer spending data from the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Prosper Insights & Analytics project retailers will have another “boo-tiful” Halloween season.
Through a survey of 7,419 consumers conducted Sept. 3-10, the NRF predicted just over two-thirds of consumers will celebrate Halloween, representing about 172 million Americans. That’s down from 175 million in 2018.
Shoppers are expected to spend $8.8 billion, just missing last year’s mark of $9 billion but still earning the third-highest spot in the 15-year history of the survey. On average, consumers say they will spend $86.27, down slightly from last year’s record of $86.79.
The majority of consumers (95 percent) will purchase candy, representing $2.6 billion in sales. About two-thirds of consumers will spend $3.2 billion on costumes, while 72 percent of shoppers will spend $2.7 billion on decorations. Roughly a third of shoppers (34 percent) will spend $390 million on greeting cards.
Nearly 70 percent of celebrants will hand out candy, and just under 30 percent will take children trick-or-treating. Nearly half of consumers will decorate their homes or yards (49 percent) and dress in costumes (47 percent). Just under 45 percent will carve a pumpkin, while 32 percent will throw or attend a party.
To buy Halloween merchandise, 42 percent of shoppers will go to a discount store, 36 percent to a specialty Halloween or costume store, 25 percent will shop online, another 25 percent will go to a grocery store and 23 percent will visit a department store.
American consumers are concerned about the ongoing trade war with China, and 14 percent of survey respondents said their economical concerns would impact their Halloween plans. However, most Halloween merchandise was in the country before 15 percent tariffs on consumer goods took effect Sept. 1.
“Spending hasn’t changed much over the past few years, but we are seeing a noticeable increase in consumers whose Halloween purchases are inspired by their friends, neighbors and even celebrities on social media,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Retailers expect to have another strong Halloween season and have stocked up on candy, decorations and the season’s most popular costumes.”
Internet searches are the top source for Halloween inspiration, cited by 35 percent of consumers surveyed, followed by in-store browsing (28 percent), and ideas from friends and family (20 percent). Inspiration from social media has increased across several platforms since 2015. Pinterest was cited by 18 percent, up from 13 percent in 2015; 14 percent cited both YouTube (up from 8 percent) and Instagram (up from 7 percent).
While creativity may abound on social media, many consumers will turn to Halloween standbys for their costumes this year. Children are expected to pick the following costumes:
- Princess – 7.9 percent (3.1 million)
- Superhero – 6 percent (2.4 million)
- Spider-Man – 5.2 percent (1.5 million)
- Avengers character (excluding Spider-Man) – 3.9 percent (1.5 million)
- Batman – 3.5 percent (1.4 million)
- Witch – 3.3 percent
- Ghost – 2.8 percent
- Vampire – 2.2 percent
- Frozen (Elsa, Anna) – 2.2 percent
- Pirate – 2.1 percent
Many adults are also expected to choose classic costumes:
- Witch – 8.9 percent (5 million)
- Vampire – 3.6 percent (2 million)
- Superhero – 3.1 percent (1.8 million)
- Pirate – 2.7 percent (1.5 million)
- Zombie – 2.5 percent (1.4 million)
- Ghost – 2 percent
- Avengers character (excluding Spider-Man) – 2 percent
- Princess – 1.9 percent
- Cat – 1.8 percent
- Spider-Man – 1.7 percent
“Halloween celebrations are primarily for children, and we see many of the same costume choices year after year,” said Phil Rist, Prosper Insights executive v.p.for strategy. “Grownups who celebrate may be looking for new ideas, but for children, princesses and superheroes are perennial favorites.”