Even as economic uncertainty looms overhead, shoppers across the country are predicted to spend more on Halloween this year than last.
Average per-person spending is expected to increase again to $66.54, with total spending projected to reach $5.77 billion, according to a recent nation-wide study sponsored by the National Retail Federation.
In 2007, the average person spent $64.82 – up from $44.50 in 2001.
And Clark County businesses are gearing up for this spending blitz.
Capitalizing on the holiday
Vancouver-based Howl at the Moon, a gift shop for dog and cat lovers, hosted its second annual pet costume contest and Halloween party Oct. 25. Funds raised at the event benefited the Humane Society for Southwest Washington.
The shop, located at 137th Avenue and Padden Parkway, also carries other Halloween-themed items, such as dog toys (including a squeaking mummy), costumes for dogs (can’t you see your pug in a doctor’s white lab coat?), and decorative soaps featuring a scary black cat (is it bad luck to drop it down the drain?).
Owner Terry Johnson said sales already were up 30 percent compared to a year ago.
Suzie Pietz, owner of Rare Earth Décor, an upscale home décor business in Ridgefield, said this Halloween season has been just as good as last year – if not better.
Rare Earth Décor gets into the holiday by decorating the store and is “known for our Halloween stuff,” Pietz said.
Pumpkins are always a hot commodity and as of Oct. 23, Camas Produce reported that it already had sold 20,000 pounds of pumpkins – with another week to go before the big day.
Arts & Scraps, a Vancouver scrapbook supplies store, offers two workshops every Saturday and one on Wednesday. At Halloween, the store teaches people how to make Halloween-related crafts, such as a scrapbook shaped like a haunted house.
“Our Halloween workshops have been slammed this year,” said owner Denise Johnson. “I’ve had to hold duplicate classes, and they are full to capacity.”
Because Halloween falls on a Friday this year, people are having more parties, said Fred Meyer Spokeswoman Melinda Merrill. Fred Meyer stores have seen stronger sales than usual on Halloween decorations and party supplies like plates, cups, and napkins, she said.
Others are letting someone else host the party.
Both the Red Lion at the Quay in Vancouver and the Parker House Restaurant in Camas are hosting parties Friday and Saturday nights, prizes for the best costumes.
Spooky celebrations also will be hopping in North County. Battle Ground’s Main Street Station Bar and Grill is having a costume contest and will feature Halloween specials on and themed drinks. Strong attendance is expected at the events.
This year’s Halloween spending survey results are reminiscent of the 2002 Halloween data, according to the NRF. Although consumers at the time were uncertain about the economy and a host of geopolitical factors, Halloween spending was strong.
The holiday was seen as a way for consumers to escape from the uncertainties of daily life and many consumers at the time saw Halloween as a way to let loose during an otherwise tense period.
The NRF expects to see some of the same patterns this year for Halloween, as evidenced by the fact the number of people who plan to celebrate is up and that people plan to spend moderately more than a year ago.
HALLOWEEN BY THE NUMBERS
Fred Meyer ordered 2.8 million pounds (that’s 1,400 tons) of candy for its stores in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska, said Spokeswoman Melinda Merrill. The “fun size” Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups and Snickers are the best movers, she added.
And while conventional wisdom suggests that the early bird gets the worm, Merrill said early Halloween candy shoppers tend to eat the candy they buy before Halloween arrives – spending 37 percent more than their just-in-time shopping counterparts because they have to come back to buy more for the trick-or-treaters.
Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette’s 38 stores received 564,000 pounds of Halloween goods this year, said Spokeswoman Dale Emanuel.
“Halloween is the second busiest holiday for us, after Christmas,” she said.
The Safeway store on Northeast 112th Avenue in Vancouver ordered about 10,000 pounds of pumpkins and expects to sell most of them before Halloween.
According to a study by the National Retail Federation, consumers will spread their Halloween spending over several categories this year – an estimated $24.17 on costumes, $20.39 on candy, $18.25 on decorations and $3.73 on greeting cards.
MOST POPULAR COSTUMES
Almost 52 million adults plan to dress for Halloween this year, according to a nation-wide study conducted by BIGresearch for the National Retail Federation – a larger percentage than the last three years.
Here are the year’s top costumes: