October 31, 2012

Scary Halloween Spending Turning Us Into Consumer Zombies

"Costumes, candy, decorations, cards, brains..."
Want to be scared today? Really scared? Just look at the cash that is spent in North America on Halloween festivities. The annual scary shopping spree is enough to re-animate the un-dead as well as opportunistic business people. Who knew that dressing up in tights and a cape for a night was so darn profitable?

The National Retail Federation has been doing a Halloween survey for the past nine years. This is because they want your brains, brains! No, just kidding. Keep your brains - they only want your money, and lots of it.

This year is on track to set a record amount for spending on decorations, candy, and costumes for children, adults, and pets. That's right - pet costumes to the tune of $310 million total. Hmmm, maybe the NRF is eating consumer's brains.

2012 spending is predicted to reach ghoulish proportions never seen before, even with the worst economic times in recent history. I can understand the stressed out newly poor wanting to escape into a fantasy world for a while, but with almost $7 billion dollars in total spending? What are they putting in that punch?

Here is how Halloween zombies will be burning their money this season:
  • $26.52 per person on costumes (including $1 billion total on children’s costumes, $1.21 billion on adult costumes, and $310 million on pet costumes)
  • $19.79 per person on decorations
  • $21.05 per person on candy
  • $4.96 per person on greeting cards
Perhaps you are part of the 30% of the population that doesn't partake and escapes the Halloween consumer zombie shopping extravaganza altogether. Consider yourself lucky. 

Don't let the monster mash of merchandising take your brains or your cash.


  1. I've never 'done' Halloween, or bought anything/much for it- this could be because it is not as popular in the UK as in the US (although is catching on more here).
    I'm trying to avoid consumerism as much as possible for Christmas etc as well- my family and friends exchange presents, but we tend to make lists of things we need/want to reduce the amount of useless stuff we get. (I tend to knit presents for people). At the grand old age of 26, I have noticed that my presents are much more consumable- lots of cheese! The best thing about Christmas is having nothing to do except for relaxing, eating and walking the dog.

    1. I like how you describe your Christmas - sounds perfect. Cheese please.

  2. Wow. That is truly scary. I have a few Halloween decorations that I've used over and over again over the years (though I've become quite the minimalist when it comes to holiday decorations), haven't bought anything in years but I buy a couple of pumpkins to cook up rather than turn into jack-o-lanterns. My husband and I haven't dressed up in ages and we don't have kids (which is one of the best ways to live simply, IMHO), so no worrying about costumes...plus hardly any trick-or-treaters come down our road. I did enjoy a small bag of Skittles with a few horror movies and Halloween specials last night though! :-)

    1. It seems like many people don't know having kids is optional. Being child free is one way to reduce demand on the earth's resources... and your own. Kids are great, but Linda and I are happy to not have any of our own.

      We had a similar quiet, zero cost Halloween this year.

      Squash seeds are awesome baked.

  3. Michelle11/01/2012

    The most disturbing stat up there is that adult spending on costumes is greater than the spending for children's costumes. When did Halloween become a grown-up holiday? I'm truly blown away by this. I can't think of a bigger waste of resources. I just read another statistic that said it would cost 20 billion dollars to provide clean drinking water to every single person on the planet. I'm so saddened by a culture that is willing to spend 7 billion dollars on worthless sugar and plastic when so many others die every day because they don't have clean water. So discouraging.......

    1. During my lifetime Halloween has gone from a silly kid and candy thing, to a silly adult and partying thing.

      It frustrates me that with all the money around we can't solve the world's most basic problems. What good is it to add more people to the global middle class if all we do with our new wealth is spend it on things we don't need while ignoring things that are failing all around us?

  4. namakemono11/01/2012

    Like NicolaB said in the first comment, Halloween is catching on in other countries too - Japan and NZ never used to have anything for it, but it is getting popular in both (costumes, parties and decorations, and I heard of trick-or-treating in NZ for the first time this year).

    1. I find it sad that this trend is spreading to other countries.

      How is it that we can get together on the Halloween thing, but not on climate change? Or protecting democracy? Or narrowing the rich/poor gap?


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