Not just for kids anymore, Halloween has shifted into a celebration for adults looking for an escape from the everyday, and with this shift, the Halloween industry is booming.
“It is an escape from reality for a day,” says Kelly David, spokesperson for Spirit Halloween, the largest seasonal Halloween retailer in the country. “For adults, you can put on a Halloween costume and forget about work, the bad economy, and other pressures.”
In the past few decades, the Halloween industry has grown. Temporary Halloween stores are on the rise and other retailers have expanded their offerings for the Oct. 31 celebration. Also, nightclubs, restaurants, and bars are cashing in by hosting Halloween events.
Halloween is the second-largest commercial holiday, with Christmas being the first. Overall Halloween spending is expected to be higher than last year when a weak economy slowed spending. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), 148 million Americans will take part in some sort of Halloween celebration this year. In its 2010 Halloween Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, the NRF found that Americans will spend $66.28 per person on costumes, candy, and decorations, up from last year’s $56.31 and comparable to the $66.54 spent per person in 2008.
“There are specific retailers who open their doors to sell Halloween merchandise during this season, which typically runs from mid-September through the end of October,” says Destini Copp, a Business professor for South University – Online. “Americans celebrate Halloween by attending or throwing a party, giving candy to children, visiting haunted houses, dressing up in costumes, carving pumpkins, and taking their children trick-or-treating.”
Copp says much of the growth of the Halloween industry is fueled by young adults. “In recent years, the young adult age group is most likely to celebrate Halloween,” she says.
According to the NRF, young adults (age 18-24 years) are more likely than any other age group to throw or attend a party (55.4%) and visit a haunted house (38.6%).
The tourism industry is also showing signs that Halloween is morphing into an empire. Cities and towns all over the country host Halloween-related events and activities, some of which span weeks. Travel agencies and attractions are even taking the opportunity to offer special Halloween travel packages.
For example, Salem, Massachusetts, known for being the location of the Salem Witch Trials in the late 1600s, has used its witchy history to become a popular tourist destination around Halloween.
Meanwhile, summer’s end doesn’t put a damper on activities at the Universal Orlando Resorts in Orlando, Florida. The resort’s Halloween Horror Nights® has been moved from the first weekend in October to the last weekend of September. The Universal Orlando parks feature haunted houses and “scare zones” where actors in scary costumes jump out at visitors at any moment.
Although it seems as if the Halloween season is getting started earlier each year, the holiday still creeps up on people.
“People still wait until right before Halloween to purchase items,” David says. “What is unique about Spirit Halloween is that 50% of sales are done within the last 10 days before Halloween.”
Halloween costumes are essential parts of the celebration. According to the NRF’s 2010 survey, Americans will spend an average of $23.37 per person on costumes this year. Also the highest percentage of people in the survey’s history will dress up this year, with 40.1% of people planning to wear a costume, up from 33.4% in 2009.
In addition to costumes, home décor is a major part of business for stores like Spirit Halloween. Home decorations range from stickers and fake spider webs to full animatronic props. Consumers are expected to spend a total of $1.6 billion on Halloween decorations this year.
Halloween also kicks off seasonal work opportunities. Employers seek additional workers to help them get through Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
“Certainly seasonal work opportunities and additional sales are offered as part of the Halloween season,” Copp says.
So, businesses and individuals are reaping the rewards of the spooky season, and hope that this year business will be booooming.