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Halloween retail industry predicts ‘return to normal’

Retailers say more Americans will dress up as witches, buy candy and go trick-or-treating next month as Halloween “returns to normal” after two years of supply chain delays and pandemic health restrictions.

In an annual survey of 8,283 consumers released this week, the National Retail Federation (NRF) reports that 69% of consumers plan to celebrate the holiday this year. That’s up from 65% last year and comparable to the 68% who planned to celebrate in 2019.

With participation spiking and inflation driving up retail prices, the industry group predicts Americans will spend a record $10.6 billion, exceeding the previous high of $10.1 billion last year. Shoppers will spend an average of $100 on Halloween candy, décor, cards and costumes this year.

“As consumers continue to return to pre-pandemic behaviors, retailers are prepared to meet that demand and help make this holiday a fun and memorable one,” NRF President Matthew Shay said in a statement.

Gregor Lawson, chairman of the Halloween & Costume Association, said early feedback from costume companies and customers confirms the online survey’s prediction that the holiday is coming back.

“This year is promising to be the return to normal that we’ve all been waiting for,” said Mr. Lawson, co-founder of MorphCostumes.

Mr. Lawson, whose trade group represents more than 30 costume companies, said they are fully restocked this month after supply chain delays caused retail shortages of popular ensembles last year.

The NRF survey found that Spider-Man, princess and witch costumes are the most popular children’s choices this year. Witch, vampire and ghost outfits are the top choices of adults.

Dog owners responding to the survey are most likely to dress their pooches as pumpkins, hot dogs and bats this year.

Consumer research firm Prosper Insights & Analytics, which conducted the NRF survey, noted that 36% of respondents said they got their costume ideas online.

“Younger consumers, particularly those under the age of 25, will look to platforms like Instagram and TikTok for costume inspiration this year,” said Phil Rist, Prosper’s executive vice president of strategy.

The survey found that 67% of consumers plan to hand out candy, 51% to decorate their homes or yards and 47% to wear costumes for next month’s holiday.

Another 44% expect to carve a pumpkin, 28% to host or attend a Halloween party and one in five plan to dress their pet up in a costume.

Hamilton Noel, head of experimental design at consumer research firm Pattern, echoed the report’s findings. He said online consumer demand “for all things spooky” spiked by about 200% last month.

“Odds are high that Halloween celebrations, whether at a party or out trick or treating, will feel very similar to the years that immediately preceded the pandemic,” Mr. Noel said in an email.

Georgetown University researcher Hank Cardello, co-author of a recent report on “indulgent” foods, added that people worried about their waistlines have nothing to fear from eating more candy this year.

“There is no difference when it comes to buying or consuming candy between those who are at a healthy weight and those with obesity,” said Mr. Cardello, a former executive in the food and beverage industry.



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