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Halloween in the Age of Coronavirus

Whether kids go out trick-or-treating or not, Halloween is very much alive.

By:  |  October 29, 2020  |    377 Words

Is it going to be a bone-chilling Halloween for retailers, or a frightful season of riches? The coronavirus pandemic has possessed every corner of the economy, turning the marketplace into a graveyard of business closures and broke consumers. While kids may not be allowed to go house-to-house asking for a trick or a treat, Americans might still be in the ghoulish spirit.

The Economics of a COVID-19 Halloween

It appears that the shock and horror of 2020 will not scare off consumers, says the world’s largest retail trade association. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), Americans are estimated to spend $8.05 billion on Halloween, down 8.3% from last year. The projections show that 58% plan to celebrate the spooky tradition, spending a little more than $92 per person, which is surprisingly up from $86.27 in 2019.

What are shoppers expected to buy?

  • Candy: 96%
  • Costumes: 65%
  • Decorations: 75%
  • Greeting Cards: 40%

The top celebration plans include dressing up, carving pumpkins, decorating the house, and handing out candy (if there are any kids).

Stores, meanwhile, are adapting to changing consumer behavior for Halloween this year. Many retailers are anticipating higher sales through their websites, optimizing their eCommerce pages and social media channels to offset the losses from in-store receipts.

The History of Halloween Spending

Halloween has always been one of the most lucrative seasons of the year for retailers. Since 2016, total U.S. consumer spending this time of year has ranged between $8.4 billion and $9.1 billion. The average spending per buyer has also exceeded $80 annually for the last four years.

Because the U.S. economy relies mostly on the consumer, retail trends are critical signals for the success or failure of the broader economy.

Everyone Deserves a Little Scare

“It’s Halloween, everyone’s entitled to one good scare.”

That line may be from the classic horror picture, Halloween, but it also sums up life in 2020. People need a distraction from this year.

Steven Silverstein, President and CEO of Spirit Halloween, wrote on NRF’s blog:

“The magic of Halloween is transformative. We need this now more than ever. It brings sheer fun and joy for families, especially for the kids. That is the beauty of Halloween – it’s stress-free and designed to be outdoors. It’s a celebration and opportunity to transform into whoever or whatever you want to be.”


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