Retailers expect Halloween spending dip, but not a big one

Nationwide, consumers are expected to spend more than $8 billion.

The pandemic delivered a gut punch to the state and national economy, but Floridians still plan on making this Halloween a memorable one.

According to a survey conducted by the National Retail Federation, consumers will spend $8.08 billion celebrating the holiday. That’s a significant decrease from the $8.78 billion consumers spent last year, but the decline isn’t as bad as once feared.

The total spend comes as fewer Americans are planning to go big on Oct. 31. NRF estimates 148 million American adults — down from 172 million in 2019 — will mark the day in some fashion, and they plan to spend more on average than in years past.

According to NRF, “Consumers are so focused on a memorable holiday that they plan to spend $92.12 on average this spooky season compared to $86.27 in 2019.”

While the coronavirus hasn’t fully derailed holiday plans, three-quarters say the virus has made an impact, including for the 17% who say they plan to celebrate virtually.

To that end, the most common Halloween plans are of the “safer-at-home” variety, such as decorating the home (53%), carving pumpkins (46%), dressing up in costumes (46%) and dressing up pets (18%).

Halloween spending is off to an early start, too, with about four in 10 consumers already filling up their carts with candy and costumes.

In Florida, shoppers plan to visit discount stores, speciality Halloween shops, grocery stores and online retailers. About 30% of consumers plan to purchase their Halloween items online, up 5% compared year over year.

“Florida retailers are here to provide all the scary decor and sweet treats for your Halloween celebrations to be as memorable as they are safe,” said Scott Shalley, president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation. “Unsurprisingly, consumers are looking to make the most of every holiday during this unusual year. Florida retailers are prepared to meet the increased demand for candy, decor, costumes and more to ensure a safe and spooky holiday for all.

“Rest assured, Florida’s stores are open and at the ready to help you stay safe and healthy while stocking up for the Halloween holiday. For an added measure of precaution, many of Florida’s retailers are offering purchase services to buy online to pick-up in store, receive curbside or have your products delivered to your door.”

The survey also checked what costumes are hottest this year. As they have for the past decade, superheroes dominate the list.

Spiderman and Batman registered on their own, with a combined 3.1 million children planning to dress up as either the world’s greatest detective or a mediocre photographer who sticks to walls. The rest of the superhero pantheon adds up to 1.6 million.

Still, the more traditional — princesses and ghosts — are among the top five, with 2.7 million kids picking the former and 1.3 million picking the latter.

The top pet costumes are pumpkins and hot dogs, followed by superheroes. About 3% say they’ll dress up their furry friend as a cat, exposing either a stunning lack of creativity or a growing acceptance for interspecific cosplay.

The NRF survey asked 7,644 consumers about Halloween shopping plans. It was conducted Sept. 1-9 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.1 percentage points.

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.


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