Halloween sales expected to top $7B: How to budget for a costume

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Halloween is the second biggest holiday for consumer spending, next to Christmas. This year, the National Retail Federation is expecting Halloween sales to top $7 billion.

National Retail Federation experts say Halloween is one of the fastest-growing consumer holidays and this weekend is prime time to shop.

The employees of local Halloween stores say normally the hard-core Halloween lovers will start shopping and planning in August, especially for decorations. Then. the first two weeks in October, business ramps up. Then, there's always massive groups of those last-minute shoppers the week before.

This year, the NRF says more than two-thirds of people celebrating Halloween are going to buy Halloween costumes, which would be a record. On top of that, with Halloween being on a Friday this year, local stores say they're guaranteed strong sales because it means more time for more parties.

“They might start out thinking 'Well I'm just going to wear one.' But then they get in here and see all the different ones and think 'Oh, well maybe I need this too,'” says Shanna Coley, the owner of Imaginations Halloween. "Or 'I can add this to this costume to change it up.' But I think most of the time they like to have multiple ones. They're like 'I'm going to see the same people, I can't be the same thing.'"

They recommend if you want to get one of their popular costumes, you should think about doing it sooner rather than later, because they're already running out of some outfits. And store owners are seeing a shift in Halloween spending. From parents spending on their kids to more adults spending more money on themselves.

Halloween is easily becoming an adult's holiday, and it's now considered the third biggest party holiday of the year. WMBF News spoke with the owner of Imaginations Halloween and the owner of Spirit Halloween just down the road. They say they've definitely seen a shift over the years to adults spending more and more on themselves. And you can tell simply by the massive amount of adult costumes compared to ones geared toward kids in their stores. Imaginations has been in the Halloween business for 17 years, and the owner tells WMBF News she noticed the switch once seductive costumes started to become popular.

"You see some kids, but parents love to go out just as much,” says Coley. “It's the one time of year they can let loose. Be whoever they want to be. And just go out and have a good time. So we see a lot of college-aged all the way 70 year olds coming in. It's Halloween, you know. They're excited! Some of them haven't dressed up in years!"

This year, the hot costumes for adults are anything to do with Game of Thrones. Those outfits are flying off the shelves. The owner of Imaginations says that's surprising, because normally medieval gear is not very popular. Store owners say Frozen and Ninja Turtles are the popular costumes for kids this year.

Adult costumes will run anywhere between $50 to $70, while kids costumes can cost between $30 and $40. So if you don't budget right, you could be way overspending. According to the National Retail Federation, the average person is expected to spend around $77.52 on costumes and $125 all together this year, which is up from last year. So if you plot it out, after you shell out $50 for a costume and $25 for makeup and accessories, that doesn't leave much room for candy, decorations, parties, haunted houses and corn mazes.

So the key here is to plan ahead like you would for Christmas shopping.  The owner of Imaginations Halloween says that the day after Halloween, everything in their store is half off. So even if you don't know what you want to be next year, you can easily stock up on decorations. Those can run from $40 to $300, or $400 for some of the bigger animatronic ones.

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