Harold Liskey of Mesa figures he’ll spend about $200 on his Halloween costume, decorations for his home and candy for the neighborhood kids.
“Holidays, especially this one, make you feel like a kid again,” the 23-year-old East Valley man said. “Halloween is an excuse to get together with friends and act like a kid.”
Liskey’s budget is more than four times the U.S. average for the ghoul-themed holiday. The National Retail Federation estimates that the average consumer will scare up $43.57 for costumes, candy, decorations and greeting cards. That’s a couple of bucks more than the 2003 average tab, reversing a downward spending trend.
“The turnaround is in candy,” said Ellen Tolley, spokeswoman for the National Retail Federation, which conducted a survey on Halloween-related shopping. “It’s encouraging to see spending is up this year.”
Mall giant The Macerich Company, which owns Scottsdale Fashion Square, Mesa’s Superstition Springs Center and Chandler Fashion Center, is expecting an even bigger splurge. Macerich surveyed 6,000 mall shoppers and estimates that the average consumer will spend $49.27 for Halloween.
Nationally, shoppers are expected to spend more than $3 billion to celebrate the fall fright day, according to the National Retail Federation survey. That would make it the sixth biggest retail holiday of the year. Christmas-Hanukkah is the behemoth, with an estimated tote of $220 billion, followed by Valentine’s Day at $13 billion, Easter and Mother’s Day each topping $10 billion and Father’s Day at $8 billion.
“Halloween is not a gift-giving holiday,” Tolley said. “It’s a holiday that favors self-indulgence, and people don't spend as much on themselves as they do on gifts for others. But Halloween is the second biggest holiday for candy and decorating and the first for costumes.” Retailers who specialize in any of those three categories may rake in big bucks this month, she said.
Spencer’s Gifts’ seasonal Spirit stores ring up $325,000 to $700,000 a month in costumes, decor, props and party goods sales, district sales manager Ken Allen said.
“Halloween is big business,” he said. Allen said the trend in recent years is toward pricier items — more adult-size costumes and elaborate lawn decorations. “The adults are taking this holiday away from the kids,” he said.
“That’s why we sell more home decor. People who grew up loving Halloween don’t want to relinquish their holiday.”
For lots of families, everybody joins the fun, making the Halloween tab skyrocket.
Lisa Croft of Scottsdale isn’t buying a new costume for herself or her husband this year because they have several years’ worth of them to recycle. But she expects to spend about $20 per costume to dress up each of her four kids and another $30 to $40 on candy. And she’s been eyeing at least $100 worth of decorations, including a spider web candelabra, a pulsing heart, a fly-around bat and spooky lights. “We always add to our decorations each year,” Croft said. Her Halloween tab this year likely will top $200.
Bonnie Mueller of Scottsdale will spend about $100 to outfit her son Payton, 3, as Zorro and daughter Lillian, 3 months, as a fairy.
“Last year we spent more because we had a party,” Mueller said.
Allen said he expects an increase in overall spending at the East Valley Spirit stores this year, but he admits that since Halloween falls on Sunday there won’t be as many parties as Friday and Saturday Halloweens spawned.
The advantage, however, of a Sunday Halloween is that people have two full days to last-minute shop, said Rick Jenkins, store manager at the Scottsdale Pavilions Target.
“It’s a big holiday,” Jenkins said. “Each year for us Halloween sales have increased, sometimes by double digits.”
Jenkins said he doesn’t have a bead yet on this year.
“It’s just too early to tell,” he said.
Mall retailers, which tend to be dominated by clothing stores, are not usually big beneficiaries of Halloween spending, Tolley said.
But shopping centers like Fiesta Mall in Mesa stage lots of special holiday events. Fiesta’s Boo Bash is a big draw, said Tami Ivy, mall marketing director. And once people set foot in a mall they usually do some shopping, she added.
“It’s always a huge day for traffic,” Ivy said.
The National Retail Federation’s predicted uptick in candy sales this year should be good news for Brach’s, which makes the Halloween favorite confectionery, candy corn.
Brach reports that 75 percent of it’s annual candy corn sales occur at Halloween time.
The company said it expects to sell more than 2 billion pieces of the multicolored morsels this Halloween, about 10 per person for everybody in the country.