Halloween spending: not so spooky this year

Halloween spending should rise this year. Better Halloween spending is a good sign for retailers generally.

This product image courtesy of PetSmart shows the Top Paw Pumpkin Costume. Pet owners will dress up millions of dogs this month for Halloween parades, parties, pictures, contests, or candy hunts. One estimate says Halloween spending will average $75 per person this year, up from $65 last year.

If all the ghouls and goblins make retail cash registers ring with their Halloween shopping, it's a good sign that Santa's sack will be full this Christmas. That's the prediction of one expert who says that Halloween sales numbers are often a good indication of how retailers will fare during the winter holiday shopping season.

"Halloween sales really reflect well the mood of the consumer and the economy in this country," said Mickey Gee, an instructor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Business in a statement. "Halloween sales [are] a number that we as retailers really look at because it often will indicate how much extra help we need to hire for the holiday season, how much we need in inventory levels and the amount of promotion we need to do or not do."

Research by the National Retail Federation found that the average person will spend $75 on Halloween related items, up $10 from last year. Those numbers make Halloween the second largest event-driven season for retailers and present an estimated $7 billion opportunity for business owners.

"With costumes, decorations, pumpkins and candy, Halloween will approach almost $7 billion in total expenditures, which is more than double what was spent in 2005," said Gee. "I even saw one statistic that said people will spend around $300 million this year just to dress their pets."

These numbers, according to Gee, can translate into a winter holiday shopping increase of 2 percent to 2.3 percent over last year.

"This year we are predicting a pretty robust Halloween season, but so far our predictions for the holiday season have been a little bit less than robust," said Gee. He expects, however, that holiday spending predictions will be revised upward once Halloween sales are tallied.

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