No trick, fewer treats: Halloween spending lower

It's a spooky picture for Halloween retailers. After a surprising surge in Halloween purchases last year despite being in the teeth of the "Great Recession," Americans will be reigning in their spending in 2009.

Last year's high Halloween spending was attributed to the country's desire to escape the day-to-day grind of a recession and economic uncertainty. Better to buy artificial bogeymen to deck out our homes than confront the real thing lurking in our home values and 401(k)s, the thinking went.

Last year, we collectively shelled out $5.77 billion on everything from fun-sized candy bars to plastic gravestones for the front yard. This year is another story: according to a study by the National Retail Federation, that number is expected to drop to $4.75 billion this year. The recession has hit home for many more of us this year, and escapism has given way to pragmatism. Close to one in three say the economy is impacting their Halloween spending. Similarly, a recent survey shows that 35 percent of us plan to spend less this Halloween.

On average, each of us will spend $56.31 on Halloween tricks and treats, down from $66.54, a decline of 15%. Need some ideas for trimming your ghoulish budget? This Walletpop post highlights several good ones.A growing number of Americans say they're not going to celebrate Halloween at all; last year, 64.5% of us got into the spirit, a figure which is down to 62.1% this year.

Among those of us who are getting our goblin on, we're participating in fewer ways, according to the survey. Fewer will dress in costume, carve a pumpkin or attend a Halloween party. Nearly half say they'll be buying less candy (get out there early, kids!), although only a small percentage are cutting their spending by not handing out candy at all.

Close to a third say they'll either make a costume or reuse last year's instead of buying a new one, and the average amount each of us will spend on costumes is $20.75. On that topic, Walletpop has some great suggestions for making a costume out of dollar-store finds.

Compare 2009's costume expenditure to last year's figure of $24.17, when we were tricking out not only ourselves and our kids, but even our pets. Please ask yourself: Does the dog really want to be a bumblebee? And don't even think about trying to put the cat in a pirate hat, unless your costume calls for bloody, scratched-up arms.

Those huge, haunted-house style lawn and home decorations have become increasingly popular in recent years. Seriously, do you even blink anymore when you pass a disembodied hand sticking up out of your neighbor's lawn? However, the NRF's survey indicates we're cutting back on those this year, too. While slightly more than half of us went for outdoor decorations last year, slightly less than half will this year.

The biggest drop in Halloween spending is occurring among young adults. Last year, 18- to 24-year-olds spent an average of $86.59; this year, that number has plunged to $68.56. The NRF attributes this to fewer part-time jobs available for teens and a reluctance on the part of parents to subsidize their older kids' holiday celebrations.
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