Americans Will Spend $6 Billion On Halloween This Year

Experts estimate that consumers are expected to spend roughly $6 billion this year on Halloween-related purchases. And that’s just “a drop in the bucket” compared to overall holiday spending, according to Nikoleta Panteva, a senior analyst with market researcher IBISWorld.

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According to IBISWorld’s analysis, Americans spent a combined $228 billion for all major holidays last year. Christmas sales totaled $135 billion —  that’s nearly 60% of the total. Halloween’s haul was the smallest, accounting for just 2.6% of holiday spending in 2010. However, for some industries, Halloween is the most lucrative.

According to the National Confectioners Association, sweets-makers make 8% of their annual sales during Halloween, making it candy’s biggest holiday, ahead of both Christmas and Easter. The National Retailers Federation estimates consumers will spend $2.27 billion on candy this year, while IBISWorld estimates $1.81 billion. Both estimates represent an increase over 2010.  Costumes, cards, and decorations account for the rest of Halloween spending.

The industry group expects revenue to hit $2.27 billion, up about 1% from a year ago. IBISWorld pegs its 2011 estimate lower, at $1.81 billion, although by their calculations that would still represent an increase.

Of course, not all Americans spend a lot on the holiday. Just a little more than two-thirds of those surveyed by the NRF said they planned to celebrate the holiday this year, a fraction stays about the same for both men and women, and across geographic regions. Age is the most telling factor, with 89.1% of 18-24 year-olds planning to participate in festivities and spend. That percentage drops with each rising demographic bracket. Only 42% of those over 65 said they had plans for the holiday.

While candy is a major part of the holiday, costumes make up the largest portion of sales, comprising about 36% of total Halloween spending. IBISWorld estimates Americans will spend $2.11 billion this year on costume purchases. According to their analysis, some of the most popular costumes this year are Lady Gaga, vampires, and traditional ghoul costumes, while more classic looks, like 1960s Mad Men-inspired outfits, are emerging as new favorites. And Americans don’t just spend on themselves. This year, they plan to spend $300 million on pet costumes, according to the NRF, while spending roughly $1 billion on children’s costumes.

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Greeting card sales have been on the decline lately, but should still make up $320 million in sales this Halloween, up from $300 million in 2010. IBISWorld estimates Americans will spend $1.67 billion on decorations this year, up from $1.49 billion in 2010.

And yet, despite all that spending, Halloween has a much smaller share of holiday spending than Christmas (59.2%), Thanksgiving (13.4%), Valentine’s Day (7.7%), Mother’s Day (6.5%), Easter (6.1%), and Father’s Day (4.5%).