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No tricks, all economic treats this Halloween

ASU business expert weighs in on Halloween enthusiasm and the impact it will have on the local economy

Jack-o'-lantern carved out for Halloween.
October 20, 2021

The spirit of Halloween is creeping into neighborhoods across the country. This year in particular, there’s not only an appetite for candy and treats, but the opportunity to party like it’s 2019, pre-pandemic. An estimated 65% of Americans are planning to celebrate or participate in Halloween activities, up from 58% last year, according to the National Retail Federation. And Halloween spending is expected to reach an all-time high.

ASU News spoke with Lee McPheters, a research professor of economics and the director at Arizona State University’s JPMorgan Chase Economic Outlook Center in the W. P. Carey School of Business, about the economic impact of this year's spooky season.

Question: After a lackluster Halloween in 2020, Americans are ready to celebrate. What are they willing to spend, and how will this benefit the retail industry and other areas of our economy?

Answer: Halloween’s economic impact is expected to reach an all-time high in 2021, as witches and goblins put the pandemic behind them and spend $10.1 billion on costumes, treats and partying. Total spending will be up by nearly 20% over the $8 billion in 2020, according to the National Retail Federation.

Here in Arizona, economists at the W. P. Carey School of Business estimate the Halloween impact will be $180 million, extending over a two-month period, and generating approximately 5,000 jobs, not only in retail but also in wholesale and transportation of products for sale. Spending per person is estimated at $103 for the 65% who said they intended to celebrate in some way. In 2020, only 58% said they would celebrate Halloween.

Q: How many people are expected to dress up this Halloween, and what are this year’s costume trends?

A: According to national surveys, 46% of those celebrating will wear a costume or part of a costume, and a surprising 20% of people intend to buy a costume for their pets. Among children, the most frequently mentioned costumes this year are the ever-popular princesses for girls and Spider-Man for boys. For adults, the top costumes planned are witches and vampires. For pets, the most popular costume is a pumpkin.  

Q: How much money will people spend on Halloween essentials?

A: Costume spending, the single largest component of Halloween expenditures, is projected to climb to $3.2 billion at the national level, up from $2.6 billion in 2020.  

For Arizona, analysts estimate costume spending of $60 million, decorations $57 million, candy $54 million and greeting cards $11 million.

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