Candy, costumes & cash: Big spending on Halloween

The National Retail Federation says Americans will spend about $9 billion on Halloween this year. (photo by author)

MUNCIE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Americans will spend $8.8 billion this year to enjoy the revelry of Halloween, according to new data from the National Retail Federation. While plenty, it’s still a bit less than last year’s $9 billion.

The NRF says this year’s total is expected to be the third-highest in the survey’s 15-year history, after the record $9.1 billion in 2017.

Ball State University economics professor Steve Horwitz says spending by Americans on Halloween-related items is a sign of the nation’s growing prosperity across income levels.
“We are simply much wealthier than we used to be, and we spend a significantly smaller percentage of our income on food, clothing, and shelter than did our parents or grandparents,” said Horwitz.

The economist explains if you calculate the costs of goods and services in terms of the number of hours the average American has to work to afford them, almost every basic household necessity is far cheaper than even 30 or 40 years ago.

“This leaves us much more to spend not just on the new gadgets they didn’t have, but everything from Halloween to Valentine’s Day to bar mitzvahs, birthdays and barbecues.”

Trending Headlines

The National Retail Federation says 2019 shoppers will spend an average $86.27 on Halloween, down slightly from last year’s $86.79

According to the NRF survey, consumers plan to spend $3.2 billion on costumes, $2.6 billion on candy, $2.7 billion on decorations, and $390 million on greeting cards.

Consumers also plan on spending nearly a half-billion dollars on costumes for their pets. The NRF says the $490 million is more than double what the federation saw in 2010. The organization is estimating 29 million people plan to dress-up their cats and dogs.

Horwitz is not surprised.

“Not only do most Americans have the disposable income to spend more on fun holidays like Halloween, but we also have it to spend on our pets, for everything from fancy food and advanced medical treatments, to elaborate grooming and Halloween costumes.”

Ball State University economist Steve Horwitz says Halloween spending is a signal of prosperity.