Has Halloween Become the New Christmas?

We may not give gifts on Halloween, but we do like spending money on ourselves, our kids and our pets for the spookiest night of the year.

According to the National Retail Federation, American consumers will spend a record amount on Halloween this year, averaging $86.79 per person among those celebrating the holiday. The country as a whole will spend a total of $9 billion on Halloween this year, close to the $9.1 billion we spent in 2017. Budgets have increased alongside participation in the festivities, which today are relentlessly documented on social media, turning Instagram into a virtual costume contest.

This year, an estimated 175 million Americans will celebrate the holiday, down slightly from last year’s record high of 179 million. (The fact that Halloween falls on a Wednesday only took a bit of the wind out of its sails, despite midweek revelry being a tough sell for adults and kids alike.)

The NRF’s survey, conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, asked 7,000 consumers about their plans for Halloween and found that 68 percent of shoppers planned to buy costumes, bringing total spending on the category to $3.2 billion. This trend has played out online and in stores as e-commerce retailers have ramped up their pre-holiday promotional efforts and pop-up Halloween stores have taken over vacant mall spaces. (Spirit Halloween, one of the largest such specialty retailers, now operates 1,325 stores, almost double the number it did a decade ago.)

With past costumes just a short scroll away, repeat dress-up duds hold less appeal for many. Plus, the holiday presents an opportunity to get together and celebrate as a family that’s relatively affordable — particularly in comparison with Christmas and other winter holidays, on which consumers spent an average of $976.13 last year, according to the NRF. And much like Black Friday, it’s nondenominational, so even as the country as a whole (and young people in particular) becomes less religious, Oct. 31 is a day we can all agree on.

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