U.S. Halloween spending is projected to reach a record $12.2 billion in 2023. The National Retail Federation predicts the October holiday will surpass the previous record $10.6 billion in 2022.
About one-third of that shopping will take place online, according to NRF.
NRF projects average spending per person to be $108.24, based on a survey of more than 8,000 consumers conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics. Per-person spending declined slightly in 2022, down to $100.45 from $102.74 in 2021. Now, it’s projected to grow about 8%.
Halloween participation is set to surpass pre-COVID levels this year, NRF says, after a dip in recent years. 73% of surveyed consumers plan to celebrate Halloween, up from the 2020 low of 58%.
“Spending will be modestly up on last year, but a lot of this will be driven by higher prices, especially in categories like candy,” says Neil Saunders, managing director at retail analysis firm Global Data. “In terms of categories, people are being a bit more frugal on decorations and costumes, but are being more generous with food and drinks to celebrate the occasion.”
69% of consumers celebrating Halloween say they plan to dress up, an increase from 67% last year. NRF projects that costumes will be the largest source of spending increases, making up $4.1 billion this year.
A larger number of respondents say they plan to decorate their homes in some way. More than three-quarters (77%) of consumers that are celebrating plan to decorate, leading to $3.9 billion in spending this year.
Candy spending is projected to reach $3.6 billion.
Consumers look online for Halloween inspiration
The majority of Halloween spending still takes place in stores, NRF says, but consumers turn to online retailers for ideas. Online searches are the leading source of inspiration for costume ideas, according to the survey. However, online shopping is the third most common place consumers look for Halloween purchases, behind discount stores and Halloween specialty shops.
“Online is a much bigger part of Halloween than it used to be. Most candy and foods are still purchased in person, but online is used a lot more for things like costumes and home decoration as it is easier for consumers to research online and look for things like the best price points,” Saunders says. “That said, stores like Walmart and Target, which are convenient destinations, still do well at Halloween. They are easy for the consumer to visit and still benefit from impulse buying.”
Data from marketplaces software vendor Jungle Scout’s Halloween report indicates that more shoppers might be looking online for Halloween, especially in younger generations. One-third of Gen Z consumers say they plan to do the majority of their costume shopping on Amazon, according to Jungle Scout’s poll of 1,000 online shoppers. 29% each of Gen Z and Millennials plan to do the majority of all Halloween shopping online, the highest of any generation tracked by Jungle Scout.
Halloween spending starts early
Consumers also started their Halloween shopping earlier this year, according to Jungle Scout. Amazon searches for Halloween items picked up earlier in 2023 than they did in 2022. Specifically, searches for the major Halloween categories of decor, costumes, and candy were all more than 100% higher in August 2023 than in August 2022, according to Jungle Scout research.
“Younger consumers are eager to begin their Halloween shopping, with more than half of those ages 25-44 planning to shop before or during September,” Phil Rist, Prosper executive vice president of strategy, said in a statement from NRF.
That fits with early analysis of Amazon’s Prime Big Deal Days sale, which unofficially kicked off the holiday shopping season. The October sales pushed holiday spending earlier in the year, says Kasi Socha, analyst at retail data research company Gartner.
Halloween spending doesn’t necessarily indicate much about the larger holiday season because it tends to drive less spending, Saunders says. However, if Halloween spending is especially robust, it could give retailers more confidence for the rest of the season, he says.
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