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Halloween Largesse

Nathan Grawe
published Oct 21, 2013

As the leaves turn to reds and golds and the air changes from moist to crisp, retailers know Halloween sales are right around the corner. According to the National Retail Federation, Americans will spend $6.9B on treats, decorations, and costumes this year. If you're thinking this is a fun children's holiday, you have another think coming. Adult costume expenditures ($1.2B) are expected to run 20% ahead of children's. While these figures are large, according to retailers they aren't large enough: 9 of 10 Americans plan to spend less this year than last accounting for a 15% drop in total expenditure.

So, how important is Halloween shopping to the economy? Is the expected 15% drop in sales a big deal or just a blip? To answer this question, you have to ask "Compared to what?" For instance, Halloween spending is paltry compared with Christmas shopping, which clocks in over 0B. Or, following columnist George Will's line of argument, it is approximately equal to all spending by campaigns for all federal offices in 2012 presidential election cycle. (Halloween has an overall edge in our consumption affections over politics given that spending in non-presidential election years is lower than in presidential cycles.) Alternatively, Halloween spending equals the total spent by all 17,450 K-12 school districts on energy.

So, how do you size up our nation's expenditure on Halloween?

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