Trick or Treat? Either Way, You’re Gonna Spend an Extra $10 on Halloween This Year

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A new survey asked American consumers how much they plan on spending this Halloween. I wonder about this kind of anticipatory survey. Do people really plan on spending a set amount for a holiday like Halloween? Do people answer honestly? Do people even know enough about themselves and the marketplace to have a chance at answering honestly? Does the amount they expect to spend have any resemblance to what they actually wind up spending?

In any event, the results of the new National Retail Federation survey say that Americans plan on dropping $66.28 on candy, costumes, and decorations for Halloween this year, up from the $56.31 they budgeted for the holiday last year. Hmmm … does that mean that people actually spent $56.31 on Halloween, on average, last year? No. Just that the folks surveyed said that’s how much they anticipated spending on the holiday a few weeks before the big day.

When this same survey was conducted last year, by the way, the $56.31 figure represented a $10 drop, from $66.54 in 2008. So basically, we’re back at 2008 levels of Halloween spending (or at least anticipatory spending).

How did consumers cut back on spending last year? The biggest cost-slashing came from buying less candy (the horror!).

And why will spending rebound this Halloween?

“In recent years, Halloween has provided a welcome break from reality, allowing many Americans a chance to escape from the stress the economy has put on their family and incomes,” said Matthew Shay, president of the Washington, D.C., retail group.

Aha! The whole “welcome break from reality.” I can understand the attraction of that, even if it costs me an extra Alexander Hamilton.

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